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 New York 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.
New York requires elementary candidates to pass the New York State Teacher Certification Examination (NYSTCE) multi-subject content specialty test as well as the liberal arts and sciences test, neither of which reports teacher performance in each subject area, meaning that it may be possible to pass these tests and still fail some subject areas. (Subscores are generated but only for informational purposes.)
Elementary education candidates in New York must also complete a "content core" requirement consisting of a major, concentration or the equivalent in one or more of the liberal arts and sciences.
In addition, all teacher candidates in New York must complete a general education core in the liberal arts and sciences, including "artistic expression; communication; information retrieval; concepts in history and social sciences; humanities; a language other than English; scientific and mathematical processes; and written analysis and expression." Although these are sensible general requirements, the state's language is not specific enough to ensure that these courses will be relevant to the topics covered in the PK-6 classrooms.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Part 52.21 New York State Teacher Certification Examination www.nystce.nesinc.com
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
New York should ensure that its 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.
The state 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, New York should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
New York should either articulate a specific set of standards or establish more 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 thatcandidates 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.
Although New York's policy requires that elementary teacher candidates have at least an arts and sciences concentration, the state's language does not ensure that these teachers will earn a content specialization in an academic subject area.
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.
New York was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also asserted that its early childhood and childhood certifications require preparation programs to prepare their teacher candidates in content knowledge that "ensures that the candidate has a knowledge base for teaching to the State learning standards for students in the following areas of the childhood education curriculum: the arts; career development and occupational studies; English language arts; health, physical education, and family and consumer sciences; languages other than English; mathematics, science and technology; and social studies."
New York reiterated that in January 2011, it adopted the Common Core Learning Standards for English language arts and literacy and for mathematics. Preparation programs will be preparing teacher candidates to teach to these new learning standards.
The state also noted that it is in the process of developing new teacher certification assessments, which will test candidates' knowledge of the P-12 NYS Common Core Learning Standards. The new content tests for elementary and common branch teachers will be designed to test knowledge of English language arts and literacy, mathematics, science, and arts, and candidates will be required to pass each part independently to attain certification.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.