The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
New Hampshire only offers a secondary general social studies certificate. Candidates must pass both the Praxis II "Social Studies: Content Knowledge" and the "Praxis II Social Studies: Analytical Essays" test. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school social studies teachers in New Hampshire have the option of earning an endorsement in middle level social studies. Candidates must commendably pass the Praxis II "Middle School Social Studies" test. Unfortunately, the state also allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license (see Goal 1-E).
Administrative Rules for Education 612.28; .29 Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org
Require secondary social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general social studies certifications—and do not require content tests for each area—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. New Hampshire's required assessments combine all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and do not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
New Hampshire asserted that it requires all middle school teachers in grades 7-8 who teach core content areas to demonstrate content knowledge by either passing the Praxis II content test or earning the equivalent of a college major in that content area.
New Hampshire also noted that it has one social studies certification so that various disciplines can reinforce one another rather than being treated entirely separately and without reference to one another. The state has addressed the need for more specialized knowledge for courses at the high school level through improvements in certification standards, which were introduced in 2007, and through the HQT interpretation of more than one subdiscipline. New Hampshire has used the equivalent of two minors to support the need for knowledge in individual socials studies disciplines as well as the expectation that all social studies teachers know the five frameworks that are reinforced by the Praxis II content test.
The state's rationale for its one social studies certification is sound. However, it will be undermined if teachers have only limited knowledge of some of the included areas that they are permitted to teach.