Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
Washington has adopted the Common Core Standards, but the state could do more to ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach a broad range of elementary content.
Washington requires candidates to pass both subtests that comprise the Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsement (WEST-E) general elementary content test. The first subtest includes science, math and physical education; the second includes English language arts, social studies and the arts.
Although the state does not specify any coursework requirements for general education or elementary teacher candidates, Washington has articulated elementary teaching standards that allude to important areas of academic knowledge. For example, the state's social studies standards make mention of civics, economics, geography and history. However, Washington's standards do leave gaps in a number of important areas, namely American and British literature.
Further, the accompanying testing framework for the WEST-E content test articulates subject-matter knowledge for elementary teachers that is better than most states.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Washington Administrative Code 181-78A-270(1) Endorsement Competencies www.k12.wa.us/certification/profed/competency.aspx Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsement www.west.nesinc.com
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Washington should ensure that its subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates is well aligned with the Common Core Standards, which represent an effort to significantly raise the standards for the knowledge and skills American students will need for college readiness and global competitiveness.
Although the state is on the right track by administering a two-part licensing test, thus making it harder for teachers to pass if they fail some subject areas, the state is encouraged to further strengthen its policy and require separate passing scores for each subject on its multiple-subject test.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Washington should either articulate a more specific set of standards or establish comprehensive coursework requirements that are specifically geared to the areas of knowledge needed by PK-6 teachers. Further, the state should align its requirements for elementary teacher candidates with the Common Core Standards to ensure that candidates will complete coursework relevant to the common topics in elementary grades. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts.
Require at least an academic concentration.
An academic concentration, if not a full academic major, would not only enhance Washington teachers' content knowledge, but it would also ensure that prospective teachers have taken higher-level academic coursework. Further, it would provide an option for teacher candidates unable to fulfill student teaching or other professional requirements to still earn a degree.
Ensure that arts and sciences faculty teach liberal arts coursework.
Although an education professor is best suited to teach effective methodologies in subject instruction, faculty from the university's college of arts and sciences should provide subject-matter foundation.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.