The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
New Mexico only offers secondary certification in general science. Coursework requirements include 24 to 36 semester hours in science, and candidates must pass the NMTA "Science" assessment. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general science but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school science teachers in New Mexico have the option of middle level licensure. Commendably, candidates must complete 24 semester hours in science, and they must pass the NMTA "Middle Level Science" test. Regrettably, however, New Mexico also allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license (see Goal 1-E).
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general science certifications—and only require a general knowledge science exam—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. New Mexico's general assessment combines subject areas (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many chemistry questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach chemistry to high school students.
New Mexico recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.