2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
Although Nevada has adopted the Common Core Standards, the state does not ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
Nevada now requires candidates to pass the Praxis II "Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications" test. Regrettably, this is not an adequate assessment of content knowledge. The description of topics assessed and sample questions focus almost exclusively on methods and instructional strategies, and although it is a sound approach to assess pedagogical knowledge in the context of specific content areas, that does not mean that such a test measures content knowledge.
In addition, Nevada does not specify any coursework requirements for general education or elementary teacher candidates, except for ones related to content methodology. The state requires eight semester hours in student teaching, nine semester hours in methods of teaching elementary subjects, nine semester hours in the teaching of literacy or language arts, and six semester hours of professional education coursework in areas such as classroom management and child development.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Nevada Administrative Code 391.095 Praxis II www.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Nevada is urged to require an elementary assessment that adequately tests subject-matter knowledge, rather than its current selection, which is more a test of pedagogy.
Further, the state should ensure that this subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates is well aligned with the Common Core Standards, which represent an effort to significantly raise the standards for the knowledge and skills American students will need for college readiness and global competitiveness.
Nevada should also require separate passing scores for each content area on the test because without them it is impossible to measure knowledge of individual subjects. Further, to be meaningful, Nevada should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Nevada should either articulate a more specific set of standards or establish comprehensive coursework requirements that are specifically geared to the areas of knowledge needed by PK-6 teachers. Further, the state should align its requirements for elementary teacher candidates with the Common Core Standards to ensure that candidates will complete coursework relevant to the common topics in elementary grades. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts.
Require at least an academic concentration.
An academic concentration, if not a full academic major, would not only enhance Nevada teachers' content knowledge, but it would also ensure that prospective teachers have taken higher-level academic coursework. Further, it would provide an option for teacher candidates unable to fulfill student teaching or other professional requirements to still earn a degree.
Ensure that arts and sciences faculty teach liberal arts coursework.
Although an education professor is best suited to teach effective methodologies in subject instruction, faculty from the university's college of arts and sciences should provide subject-matter foundation.
Nevada recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. However, this analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.