Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science:
Vermont

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: Vermont results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/VT-Secondary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Science-6

Analysis of Vermont's policies

Vermont offers a secondary endorsement in general science. Candidates are required to earn a major in biology, chemistry, physics, or earth/environmental/atmospheric sciences or the equivalent in undergraduate and/or graduate coursework. They must also achieve a passing score on the Praxis II "General Science" multiple choice or essay test and one subject-specific test of their choosing. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general science but rather can teach any of the topical areas.

Middle school science teachers in Vermont must earn a middle grades endorsement. Candidates are required to earn a minor in the content area and, commendably, must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Science" content test.

Citation

Recommendations for Vermont

Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general science certifications—but don't require passing scores on content tests for each subject area taught—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Although Vermont's requirement of a passing score on a single-subject content test is a step in the right direction, it only ensures requisite subject matter knowledge in one area. That leaves out all the other science courses that could be taught at the secondary level with a general science endorsement.

State response to our analysis

Vermont recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

For an examination of how science teacher preparation positively impacts student achievement, see Goldhaber, D., & Brewer, D. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school certification status and student achievement, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22, 129-145; Monk, D. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement, Economics of Education Review, 12(2):125-145; Rothman, A., (1969). Teacher characteristics and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 6(4), 340-348.  

See also, NCTQ "The All-Purpose Science Teacher: An Analysis of Loopholes in State Requirements for High School Science Teachers."(2010). 

In addition, research studies have demonstrated the positive impact of teacher content knowledge on student achievement.  For example, see D. Goldhaber, "Everyone's Doing It, But What Does Teacher Testing Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness?" Journal of Human Resources, vol. XLII no.4 (2007).  See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement". Teacher Quality Research (2007). Evidence can also be found in White, Presely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois," Illinois Education Research Council (2008); D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Why Don't Schools and Teachers Seem to Matter? Assessing the impact of Unobservables on Educational Productivity." Journal of Human Resources (1998).