Letters to the Editor
I would like to clarify a misunderstanding in your article about the National Science Teachers Association's national teacher-certification program in the April 8, 1987, issue ("Science Teachers Laud Certification Program, But Few Seen Qualified'').
I was quoted as saying that Colorado certifies science teachers who have completed only a one-semester science course. I intended to convey the point that a science teacher certified because of a concentration in one field of science is also certified in all the others by taking only one course in each.
A biology teacher completing only one course in physics, for example, is certified to teach high-school physics. This situation is analogous to a qualified teacher of French teaching German--having had only a one-semester course in that language.
A typical candidate for secondary certification in Colorado might have a minor in biology or conservation education, two or three semesters of chemistry, and one semester each of physics and earth science. Such a teacher receives certification in "science'' and often finds employment as a chemistry or physics teacher.
The point remains: Colorado's standards, as do those of most states, fall far short of the Carnegie Forum and the N.S.T.A. certification requirements. With such lack of expertise, it is not hard to understand why secondary-school science teaching is held in such low esteem. Clearly, there is a need to improve the academic backgrounds of entering and current science teachers.
That is exactly what the Carnegie Forum and the N.S.T.A. are proposing. The N.S.T.A. views teachers as professionals and lends credibility to that view through national certification.
Edward L. Waterman
Rocky Mountain High School
Fort Collins, Colo.