The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Utah no longer offers a general science certification for secondary teachers. The state discontinued its integrated science endorsement after the 2010-2011 school year. It does, however, have a physical science endorsement, which allows teachers to teach both physics and chemistry. Candidates are required to pass either the Praxis II "Physical Science" content test or the "Chemistry, Physics and General Science" combination test. Further, candidates applying for the chemistry endorsement are required to pass either the Praxis II "Chemistry" content test or the "Chemistry, Physics and General Science" combination test.
The state also offers a middle level science endorsement, which is only available to teachers who already hold a secondary certification in another science area. Commendably, these candidates are required to pass the Praxis II "General Science" content test.
Regrettably, however, Utah allows middle school science teachers to teach on a generalist 1-8 license, if they are in self-contained classrooms (see Goal 1-E).
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow combination licenses across multiple science disciplines—and require only a comprehensive content test—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Utah's required assessment combines both physics and chemistry and does not report separate scores for each subject. Therefore, a candidate could, for example, answer many physics questions incorrectly on the combination content test, yet still be licensed to teach physics to high school students. Further, candidates for the chemistry endorsement should be required to pass a chemistry content test, rather than a combination assessment that cannot ensure adequate subject matter knowledge.
Utah recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.