Only 52 percent of public middle and high school students nationwide were taught biology in the 1999-2000 school year by a teacher with both certification in that subject and a college major or minor in it, a federal paper says.
The issue brief, released June 30 by the National Center for Education Statistics, also says that 16 percent of biology students that year had a teacher with neither certification for teaching that subject nor a major or minor in biology.
Teacher qualifications in biology were more likely to fall short in schools with high percentages of children living in poverty. In middle and high schools where fewer than 10 percent of students were eligible for free- or reduced-price lunches, 58 percent of students were taught by instructors with both certification in biology and a major or minor in the subject. In schools where more than half the students qualified for subsidized lunches, 46 percent of teachers had both certification and a major or minor in biology.