Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that secondary teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge appropriate grade-level content. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Content Test Requirements: Wisconsin offers a "middle and high school" license, which allows teachers to instruct students in grades 4-12.
Under Wisconsin's new licensing structure, candidates for the state's Tier II license (which is the state's initial license) have the following options for demonstrating content knowledge:
Testing Requirement www.ets.org/praxis Wisconsin Code PI 34.021(1)(c); .040; .045; .046; .052
Require subject-matter testing for secondary teacher candidates.
As a condition of licensure, Wisconsin 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.
Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. Wisconsin noted that Broadfield Science and Broadfield Social Studies licenses are not available to add based on passing a content test alone. Applicants adding these licenses must also "demonstrate adequate instruction in the conservation of natural resources." The state also noted that general science and social studies licenses/deficiencies analyses will be true for candidates who will complete new Science all and Social Studies all license preparation programs. According to the state, neither of these have been approved yet under the new PI 34.
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.