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: Wyoming offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 6-12. The state does not require most secondary teachers to pass content tests. Only secondary comprehensive social studies teachers must pass a Praxis II content test. It also appears that the state offers endorsements in the specific subject areas of social studies, such as history, geography and political science; however, a content test is not required.
Endorsements: In Wyoming, an endorsement can be added to an existing license by one of three methods:
Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org PTSB Rules and Regulations, Chapter 3 Section 3 Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board Testing Requirements http://ptsb.state.wy.us/Licensure/TestingRequirements/tabid/73/Default.aspx
Require subject-matter testing for secondary teacher candidates.
As a condition of licensure, Wyoming 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.
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements.
Wyoming should require passing scores on subject-specific content tests, regardless of other coursework or degree requirements, for teachers who are licensed in core secondary subjects and wish to add another subject area, or endorsement, to their licenses. Although coursework may be generally indicative of background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Wyoming recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.