Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Content Test Requirements:
South Carolina offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 9-12. The state requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a Praxis II content test to teach any core secondary subjects.
Endorsements: To add an additional field to a secondary license, teachers must also pass a Praxis II content test. However, South Carolina cannot guarantee content knowledge in each specific subject for secondary teachers who add general science or general social studies endorsements.
Secondary Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, South Carolina allows both general science and general social studies licenses without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within these disciplines. Because secondary content testing loopholes are scored in 3-E: Secondary Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Secondary Content Knowledge goal.
South Carolina Code of Regulations Chapter 43 South Carolina Required Examinations http://ed.sc.gov/educators/certification/certification-forms/forms/south-carolina-educator-certification-required-examinations/
Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
South Carolina wisely requires subject-matter tests for most secondary teachers but should address any loopholes that undermine this policy (see 3-E: Secondary Licensure Deficiencies analysis and recommendations). This applies to the addition of endorsements as well.
South Carolina stated that In order to add the fields of science or social studies, candidates must complete academic coursework
requirements with grade requirements in multiple subjects within these
broad fields as well as adopted subject-area assessment for science or social
studies. The state indicated that If it were to adopt additional
subject-specific testing requirements for a teacher to add social studies, the
cost to educators would be considerable since a social studies teacher may
reasonably teach courses in history, government, economics, psychology,
sociology, political science, geography, anthropology, legal studies, and more.
South Carolina felt that the same would be true if it were to require multiple,
subject-specific tests within the field of science: biology, chemistry,
physics, astronomy, earth science, physical science, marine science, geology, etc.
South Carolina asserted that this level of additional testing is not supported through research and could have a negative impact on rural districts and small schools in staffing positions. To become initially certified in a science area in South Carolina, a program completer must first be certified in biology, chemistry, or physics—supported by a major and subject-specific exam—and have additional courses in multiple areas within the broader field and the broad-field exam to add the area of science to the certificate.
3D: Secondary Content Knowledge
Completion of coursework provides no assurance that prospective teachers know the specific content they will teach. Secondary teachers must be experts in the subject matter they teach, and a rigorous, subject-matter specific test ensures that teacher candidates are sufficiently and appropriately knowledgeable in their content area. In fact, research suggests that a positive correlation exists between teachers' content knowledge and the academic achievement of their students. Coursework is generally only indicative of background in a subject area; even a major offers no certainty of what content has been covered. A history major, for example, could have studied relatively little American history or almost exclusively American history. To assume that the major has adequately prepared the candidate to teach American history, European history, or ancient civilizations is an unwarranted leap of faith, whereas a rigorous content test could verify aspiring teachers' knowledge in each topic area.
Requirements should be just as rigorous when adding an endorsement to an existing license. Many states will allow teachers to add a content area endorsement to their license simply on the basis of having completed coursework. As described above, the completion of coursework does not offer assurance of specific content knowledge. Even states that require a content test for initial licensure should require an additional content test for adding an endorsement.