The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
South Carolina offers a secondary certificate in general science. Teachers with this certificate may teach all science courses in high school. Candidates must pass the Praxis II "Biology and General Science" test or the "Chemistry, Physics and General Science" test. Neither of these combination testing options ensures adequate subject matter knowledge for all areas of secondary science.
South Carolina also has other problematic testing requirements for its single-subject science certificates. Biology teachers must pass the combination "Biology and General Science" test; chemistry and physics teachers must pass the combined "Chemistry, Physics and General Science" test. It is unclear why the state does not simply require the single-area content knowledge tests, rather than these combination tests, which do not guarantee subject-matter knowledge in a particular area.
Middle school science teachers in South Carolina must earn middle level certification in science. A subject-area minor is required. Commendably, candidates must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Science" test.
SC Code of Regulations 43-62 "Middle Level Teacher Requirements" http://www.scteachers.org/cert/index.cfm Testing Requirements http://www.scteachers.org/cert/exam.cfm
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general science certifications or combination licenses across multiple science disciplines—and only require a general knowledge science exam—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. South Carolina's required general assessments combine subject areas (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics) and do not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many—perhaps all—chemistry questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach chemistry to high school students.
South Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.