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: Utah offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 6-12. Effective January 1, 2020, candidates for Utah's associate educator license (which is the state's initial license) will be required to have
a bachelor's degree or be enrolled in, but not complete, an educator
preparation program. This initial license is valid for two years and
may be renewed. Teachers must complete a teacher preparation program
and have a bachelor's degree in order to obtain a professional educator
license. Starting January 1, 2020, secondary candidates can demonstrate content knowledge using one of the following:
Test Requirement www.ets.org/praxis Utah Administrative Rules R277-301; 309 Draft of R277-309 (adopted January 8, 2020) https://usbe.civicclerk.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ad=2125
Require subject-matter testing for secondary teacher candidates.
As a condition of licensure, Utah should require its secondary teacher candidates to pass a content test in each subject area they plan to teach to ensure that they possess adequate subject-matter knowledge and are prepared to teach grade-level content. While coursework may be generally indicative of background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements.
Utah 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 and wish to add another subject area, or endorsement, to their licenses. While coursework may be generally indicative of background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Utah was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis. The state also noted that the rules regarding the new licensing system are
effective on 1/1/2020, but the old rules do not sunset until 6/30/2020.
This means that the new system starts on 7/1/2020. The overlap is to
allow for implementation and transition.
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.