The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
Texas is on the right track in ensuring that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach a broad range of elementary content.
Texas requires candidates to pass the Texas Examination of Educator Standards general elementary content test, which does not report teacher performance in each subject area, meaning that it may be possible to pass the test and still fail some subject areas.
All teacher candidates in Texas are required to complete either an academic discipline major or an interdisciplinary major. In addition to the six semester credit hours of science required by the state's core curriculum guidelines, elementary education candidates must complete an additional six to nine semester credit hours in science (physical or life science, or a combination of the two). Education courses may not be counted toward the content course requirements.
Texas also articulates teacher standards that include important areas such as art history, children's literature, geography, economics and music. For example, in the area of history, teacher candidates must know:
Educator Preparation Program Guidelines www.thecb.state.tx.us/AAR/EdPrep/default.cfm Generalist Educator Standards www.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECOnline/standtest/standards/ec6gen.asp Texas Examination of Educator Standards http://texes.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Texas should require separate passing scores for each content area on the test because without them it is impossible to measure knowledge of individual subjects. Further, to be meaningful, Texas should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Although Texas outlines a more specific set of content standards than most states, the state should either articulate an even more specific set of standards or establish more comprehensive coursework requirements that are specifically geared to the areas of knowledge needed by PK-6 teachers. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts.
Require at least an academic concentration.
Texas's policy requiring elementary candidates to earn an academic major is undermined because it may be met with an interdisciplinary major. Unlike an academic major, an interdisciplinary major will not necessarily enhance teachers' content knowledge or ensure that prospective teachers have taken higher-level academic coursework. Further, it does not provide an option for teacher candidates unable to fulfill student teaching or other professional requirements to still earn a degree, as an academic major does.
Texas asserted that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) core curriculum requirements only apply to public institutions of higher education. The only requirements for private IHEs are the statute and the State Board for Educator Certification standards and rules.
Texas also pointed out that it included the requirement for a separate reading test for elementary teachers in the released certification testing RFP (Request for Proposal). This would expand the number of test items in the content domains and the ability to provide subscores, and it would ensure that a generalist certificate is issued only after each content area has been passed. Candidates would be required to retake the domains/content areas that were not passed.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.