Qualifications of Public Secondary School History Teachers, 1999–2000
Studies of the qualifications of elementary and secondary school teachers have focused on whether or not teachers have educational backgrounds (a postsecondary major/minor or equivalent) and state certification that match the subjects they teach (Ingersoll 1999; Seastrom et al. 2002). Teachers are described as “in-field” or “out-of-field” based on the presence or absence of a postsecondary major and state certification in the subject taught. However, among teachers who are out of field, further analysis can show the extent to which their training is related to or distant from the field in which they teach. To the extent that out-of-field teachers differ in the subjects in which they have been trained, teachers may differ in the useful knowledge they bring to instruction.
This Issue Brief presents a measure of teacher qualifications that includes additional detail on the educational backgrounds and certifications of out-of-field teachers. The focal subject for the Issue Brief is history/world civilization (called history in this Issue Brief) at the secondary level. History was selected because of its high enrollment rates: 90 percent of 1998 high school graduates had taken at least one year of history at the secondary level (Roey et al. 2001). For each qualification—postsecondary major/minor and state certification—teachers are classified first by whether or not they have the qualification in history. Then, teachers lacking the qualification in history are classified by presence of the qualification in other subjects. These subjects are grouped by similarity to each other in terms of subject matter and skills. The list of subjects is taken from Seastrom et al. (2002), the most recent National Center for Education Statistics Statistical Analysis Report on out-of-field teaching.4 Certification measures used in the report did not differentiate between history and other social sciences and so certification is reported for social studies, including history. Teachers are classified first in terms of educational background and certification separately and then classified based on the combinations of their postsecondary majors/minors and certification. The Issue Brief makes no judgment about which subjects are further out of field than others, but provides the information that allows the reader to make such an assessment.