The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
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.
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.
Vermont recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.