The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
South Carolina offers secondary certification in general social studies. Candidates are required to pass the Praxis II "Social Studies" content test and the "Social Studies: Interpretation of Materials" test. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Further, although the state offers additional secondary certifications in the specific social studies areas (e.g., history, government, geography), it still only requires the same general content tests mentioned above.
Middle school social studies teachers in South Carolina must earn middle level certification in social studies. A subject-area minor is required. Commendably, candidates must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Social Studies" test.
SC Code of Regulations 43-62 Middle Level Teacher Requirements http://www.scteachers.org/cert/index.cfm Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org
Require secondary social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general social studies certifications—and only require a general knowledge social studies exam—are not ensuring that their secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. South Carolina's required assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many—perhaps all—history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
South Carolina should also require specific content tests for its subject certifications, such as history and geography. The state's requirement of a general content test even for its subject-specific certifications undermines its apparent effort to ensure content knowledge in each area of social studies.
South Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.