2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Washington offers secondary certification in general social studies. Candidates are required to pass the WEST-E "Social Studies" content test, which combines all areas and does not report subscores. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school social studies teachers in Washington must earn a middle level endorsement. Candidates must pass the WEST-E "Middle Level Humanities" content assessment. Commendably, this test is made up of two subtests, with one devoted entirely to social studies, and candidates must pass both subtests to pass the test. Unfortunately, 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 social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general social studies certifications—and only require a general knowledge social studies exam—are not ensuring that their secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Washington's assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.