Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Content Test Requirements: Washington offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 5-12. The state requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a content test to teach any core secondary subjects. The state's code no longer provides a link to the endorsement-related assignment table; consequently, it is unclear whether Washington has strengthened its policy by no longer allowing secondary teachers to teach certain math courses.
Endorsements: To add an additional field to a secondary license, teachers must also pass a content test. However, Washington cannot guarantee content knowledge in each specific subject for secondary teachers who add general social studies endorsements.
Secondary Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, Washington allows both general science and general social studies licenses without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within these disciplines. Because secondary content testing loopholes are scored in 3-E: Secondary Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Secondary Content Knowledge goal.
NES Test www.nestest.com WEST-E Tests www.west.nesinc.com Endorsement Competencies http://program.pesb.wa.gov/endorsements/list Adding Endorsements http://www.k12.wa.us/certification/teacher/Endorsement.aspx Revised Code of Washington 28A.410.220 WAC 181-82-105 Endorsement-Related Assignment Table http://www.pesb.wa.gov/districts/endorsement-related-assignment-table
Require subject-matter testing for secondary teacher candidates.
As a condition of licensure, Washington 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. Washington should not assume that science teachers are adequately prepared to teach math at the high school level. The only way to guarantee requisite subject matter is to require a passing score on a rigorous mathematics assessment.
Washington provided information in its response to this goal that was relevant to Goal 3E: Secondary Licensure Loopholes.
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.