The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.
New Mexico does not ensure that its secondary teachers are adequately prepared to teach grade-level content.
New Mexico requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a content test to teach any core secondary subjects. Unfortunately, New Mexico permits a significant loophole to this important policy by allowing both general science and general social studies licenses, without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within these disciplines (see Goals 1-G and 1-H).
To add a secondary endorsement to an existing license, teachers in New Mexico must either pass a content test or earn 24-36 semester hours of credit in the subject area.
Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
New Mexico wisely requires subject-matter tests for most secondary teachers but should address any loopholes that undermine this policy (see Goals 1-G and 1-H).
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements.
New Mexico should require passing scores on subject-specific content tests, regardless of other coursework or degree requirements, for teachers who are licensed in core secondary subjects and wish to add another subject area, or endorsement, to their licenses. While coursework may be generally indicative of background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
New Mexico recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
Research studies have demonstrated the positive impact of teacher content knowledge on student achievement. For example, see D. Goldhaber, "Everyone's Doing It, But What Does Teacher Testing Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness?" Journal of Human Resources, vol. XLII no.4 (2007). See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement." Teacher Quality Research (2007).Evidence can also be found in White, Pressely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois" Illinois Education Research Council (2008); D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Does teacher certification matter? High School Certification Status and Student Achievement." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 22: 129-145. (2000); and D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Why Don't Schools and Teachers Seem to Matter? Assessing the impact of Unobservables on Educational Productivity." Journal of Human Resources (1998).