About the Tool
To be successful, elementary teachers need content knowledge in science and social studies, both to build their students’ understanding of the world and their critical thinking skills, and also to support students in becoming strong readers. Becoming a strong reader requires cumulative exposure to content knowledge, cutting across multiple domains and disciplines. The courses aspiring teachers take gives them strong background knowledge in these subjects, and in turn, they give this knowledge to students.
NCTQ launched this Building Content Knowledge: Content Coverage Tool as part of the Teacher Prep Review to help teacher preparation programs identify actionable solutions for strengthening elementary teacher candidates’ social studies and science content knowledge. The tool provides individual teacher preparation programs with a personalized analysis of (1) whether the program’s requirements or institution’s general education requirements adequately cover key content essential for students, and (2) guidance for courses the program could require or recommend to best prepare future teachers to pass content licensure exams, teach the breadth of elementary curricula, and, ultimately, boost students’ reading comprehension. Specifically, the tool answers the following questions for each program:
- Do their current coursework requirement categories (including both program requirements and the institution’s general education requirements) address the science and social studies themes and topics elementary teachers need to know?
- Which existing courses at the institution cover the essential science and social studies content?
- What is the best combination of courses a teacher candidate can take providing the most content coverage of topics an elementary teacher needs to know?
This tool focuses on undergraduate elementary teacher preparation programs. Graduate programs and alternate-route programs are not included.