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Proposed Certification Standards

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Under the certification requirements proposed by the National Science Teachers Association, an elementary-school teacher would have to show a minimum of 12 semester-hours of laboratory or field-oriented science, including courses in each of these areas: biology, physical science (physics and chemistry), and earth science.

A middle- or junior-high-school teacher would have to take a minimum of 36 semester-hours of science classes in the major scientific disciplines, including at least 9 hours each of biology, physical science, and earth/space science. The remaining 9 hours could be chosen from among the major science disciplines.

In addition, a middle-school teacher would have to have a minimum of 9 hours in mathematics and computer applications in science teaching.

High-school teachers would have to show a minimum of 50 semester-hours of coursework in one or more of the sciences, as well as supplementary study in a few closely related content areas such as mathematics, statistics, and computers. The standards also include detailed requirements for coursework in each of the disciplines in which a high-school teacher could be certified.

College Training

Some states now require as few as 12 semester-hours of college training for individuals who teach mathematics and science subjects at the high-school level, writes Elizabeth H. Woellner of the University of Chicago in the 1983-84 edition of Requirements for Certification.

Research by the nsta on the current requirements for elementary-school teachers indicates just how high the nsta's standards are:

In a 1982 survey of colleges and universities with the largest numbers of graduates in teacher education, half required only 8 semester-hours or less of science for people preparing to teach science at the elementary-school level. That is very close to the number of hours in science required in the general education of all college students who are not expected to teach science.

Only 18 percent of the institutions required elementary-teacher candidates to complete courses in biology, physical science, and earth science. In most institutions, a prospective teacher could get by with courses in only one or two areas. Another 1982 survey of 46 states found that none required an elementary-school teacher to complete courses in all three subjects--biology, physical science, and earth science.

Only 12 of the 46 states required a separate science-methods course for elementary certification.

The nsta's subject-matter requirements would approximately double the average requirements now set by states, said Bill G. Aldridge, the nsta's executive director.--lo

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