The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Texas offers secondary certification in general social studies. Candidates are required to pass the TExES "Social Studies" content test, which combines all subject areas and does not report subscores. These teachers may teach all secondary social studies and economics courses.
Middle school social studies teachers in Texas may teach on either a generalist (4-8) or a subject-specific (4-8) endorsement. Candidates must earn either an academic discipline major or an interdisciplinary academic major. They must also pass a subject-matter test. Those seeking the subject-specific endorsement must take a single-subject test; however, those teaching under the generalist license only have to pass the generalist exam, in which social studies accounts for just 23 percent of the test, and subscores are not reported.
Texas Administrative Code 188.8.131.52 Testing Requirements www.texes.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 these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Texas's 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 history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
Require middle school social studies teachers to pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of social studies.
Although the state's testing requirements for its subject-specific endorsements ensure adequate subject matter knowledge, Texas should require that even its middle school social studies teachers teaching on the generalist 4-8 certificate have the requisite knowledge in the specific content. The state's current policy of only requiring a general exam falls short of guaranteeing adequate subject matter knowledge for these teachers.
Texas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that the social studies 8-12 test will be eliminated and separate content tests will be developed for history, economics, geography, political science, psychology and sociology. This has been announced to all programs, and development will begin on September 1, 2011. Also, grade levels may be realigned to grades 7-12, which would eliminate the 4-8 examinations. The issuance of the testing RFP (Request for Proposal) included realignment of 8-12 examinations to grades 7-12.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.