2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Tennessee does not offer certification in general science for secondary teachers. Teachers must be certified in a specific discipline within the subject area of science.
Middle school science teachers in Tennessee must earn a middle grades certification. The state articulates a major requirement, which includes an interdisciplinary major that includes study in English, mathematics, science and social studies; an interdisciplinary major in two disciplines from the arts and sciences; or a major in a single discipline from the arts and sciences with an area of emphasis in at least one additional discipline outside the major. Candidates are only required to pass the Praxis II "Middle School" content test, which combines all four subject areas.
Tennessee Licensure Standards and Induction Guidelines, pages 7-17, 12-1 http://www.tennessee.gov/education/lic/doc/accttchlicstds.pdf Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org
Require middle school science teachers to pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of science.
A general subject-matter test that combines literature/language arts, mathematics, history/social studies and science—without reporting separate scores for each subject area—does not ensure that middle school science teachers possess adequate knowledge of science, as it may be possible to answer many—perhaps all—science questions incorrectly and still pass the test.
Tennessee asserted that subject-specific licensure for secondary science teachers is offered in biology (7-12), chemistry (7-12), physics (7-12), and earth science (7-12). Preparation programs include a set of Science Core Standards, which focuses primarily on middle grades content. The state added that for licensure, the subject-specific Praxis II test must be passed. Additionally, teacher candidates must also pass their respective secondary Praxis II specialty test as well.
This analysis acknowledges Tennessee's policy regarding secondary science teachers, and the state has received credit for the fact that secondary science teachers are required to pass a content test in each subject area they plan to teach. Middle school teachers also may teach under these 7-12 licenses.
However, it is Tennessee's policy pertaining to middle grades (4-8) science teachers that is problematic. These teachers are only required to pass the Praxis II "Middle School" content test, which does not report an individual subscore for science. Therefore, the state cannot guarantee that these teachers possess adequate subject-matter knowledge for the classroom.