2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Washington offers a secondary endorsement in general science. Candidates are required to pass the WEST-E "Science" assessment, which combines physical science, earth and space science, biology, and scientific processes and inquiry. 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 Washington must earn a middle level endorsement. Commendably, candidates must pass the WEST-E "Middle Level Science" content assessment. Regrettably, however, the state also allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license (see Goal 1-E).
Washington Administrative Code 181-82A-202 WEST-E Testing Requirements www.west.nesinc.com
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general science certifications—and only require a general knowledge science exam—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Washington's required assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many chemistry questions incorrectly, for example, yet still be licensed to teach chemistry to high school students.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.