The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
New York does not offer certification in general science for secondary teachers. Teachers must be certified in a specific discipline within the subject area of science.
Middle school science teachers in New York have the option of a middle grades specialist certificate, which requires a major in biology, chemistry, earth science or physics. Candidates must pass an NYSTCE content test in one of these specific areas. Those teaching grades 7 and 8 in a K-8 setting, however, are required to earn a generalist in middle childhood education certificate and to pass the state's multi-subject exam.
Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Part 52.21 New York State Teacher Certification Examinations www.nystce.nesinc.com
Require all middle school science teachers to pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of science.
Although New York's specialist option ensures requisite subject matter knowledge, the state's generalist option falls short. The multi-subject exam combines English, math, science, social studies, fine arts, health and fitness, and family and consumer science and career development and does not report separate scores for each subject area.
New York recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that the middle school generalist certification is only accepted for K-8 nondepartmentalized schools. In schools that are departmentalized for grades 7 and 8, the appropriate science certification is required for science instruction. Further, once certified in one of the four subject areas—biology, chemistry, earth science or physics—a general science extension can be issued.
All middle school students need teachers that are well prepared to teach middle school-level science, whether this occurs in a self-contained or departmentalized classroom.