Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that secondary teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge appropriate grade-level content. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Content Test Requirements: Tennessee offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 6-12. The state requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a Praxis content test to teach any core secondary subjects.
However, the state allows teachers to delay passage of content tests if they possess a bachelor's degree in a core content area.
Endorsements: To add an additional field to a secondary license, teachers in Tennessee must also pass a Praxis content test.
Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Because provisional and emergency licensure requirements are scored in Provisional and Emergency Licensure, only the test requirements for the state's initial license are considered as part of this goal.
Testing Requirements www.ets.org/praxis Tennessee State Board Policy 5-502 Appendix A and Policy 5.504 Endorsement Flexibility and Additional Endorsements page https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/education/licensure/lic_adding_endorsements_quick_facts.pdf
Eliminate test exemption.
Tennessee should require passing scores on subject-specific content tests, regardless of other coursework or degree requirements, for teachers who are licensed in core secondary subjects. Although coursework or a degree may be generally indicative of a background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Tennessee indicated that educators who are enrolled in a program with a job-embedded clinical practice may "allow teachers to delay
passage of content tests if they possess a bachelor's degree in a core
content area." According to the state, review of the last three years of
candidates completing preparation programs in Tennessee, showed that
roughly 27% went through a job-embedded program and a smaller percentage
of this group delayed passage of the content assessments by holding a
degree with a major in the content area.
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.