Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science:

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: Ohio results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Ohio's policies

Ohio offers a teaching field in integrated science for secondary teachers. Candidates have two options regarding Praxis II testing requirements. The first is passing both the "Chemistry, Physics and General Science" test and the "Biology" test. The second option requires candidates to pass both the "Biology and General Science" test, and one of the following: "Chemistry," "Physics," or "Earth and Space Sciences." 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 Ohio must earn an area of concentration in science, along with another content area. Commendably, candidates must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Science" test.


Recommendations for Ohio

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. Ohio's required general assessments combine subject areas (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics) and do not report separate scores for each subject area. The state's first testing option could result in candidates getting many questions wrong in the areas of chemistry, physics, and/or earth and space science, for example, yet still passing the test—and going on to teach these subjects in high school. Ohio's second option falls short as well, failing to guarantee requisite content knowledge in each subject area within integrated science.

State response to our analysis

Ohio asserted that it does not offer general science but rather an "integrated science" license. The state argued that with integrated science licensure, subject-matter testing for each subject area within the discipline does occur because it requires a combination of two tests, a broader one and a more specific one: "The structure of this testing requirement was designed specifically to ensure that all components of the integrated area are tested." This can be accomplished in ways other than just requiring a separate, single-discipline test for each component — for example,  by requiring a combination of tests that, when taken together, test each subject area within the discipline.

Last word

Although Ohio is doing more than most states to measure content knowledge across the disciplines, the state's combination tests still do not ensure content knowledge in all subject areas. Subscores are not provided for the assessments that combine subject areas, namely the Praxis II "Chemistry, Physics and General Science" test for the first option and the "Biology and General Science" test for the second option. 

Research rationale

For an examination of how science teacher preparation positively impacts student achievement, see Goldhaber, D., & Brewer, D. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school certification status and student achievement, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22, 129-145; Monk, D. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement, Economics of Education Review, 12(2):125-145; Rothman, A., (1969). Teacher characteristics and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 6(4), 340-348.  

See also, NCTQ "The All-Purpose Science Teacher: An Analysis of Loopholes in State Requirements for High School Science Teachers."(2010). 

In addition, 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, Presely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois," Illinois Education Research Council (2008); 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).