teachers of science and mathematics would have deep understanding of what is taught through first-year courses in their subject areas at colleges and universities. It should be noted that acquiring the desirable depth of understanding at any level usually will require advanced study of the pertinent subject matter. The content suggested for each major grade level category in the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996a) and by the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) are provided in Appendix B. A forthcoming publication from the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (see footnote 9) also will address issues of teacher education for prospective teachers of mathematics.
However, despite the seemingly straightforward guidance reviewed above, the question of what content teachers need is deceptively multifaceted and complex. Level of content knowledge typically has been defined by the specific number of hours of science content or mathematics content coursework that must be a part of prospective teachers’ preparation. At the elementary school level, this might be one to three courses, which, depending on the teacher education program or specific state requirements may or may not be tailored to prospective teachers at this grade level. At the secondary level, a teacher who teaches biology might be required to complete courses or demonstrate competency in genetics, ecology, physiology, microbiology, and conservation principles. That teacher also needs to acquire some breadth of knowledge in the other sciences, as well as in mathematics. Some states require a major or at least a minor in the appropriate field but may not articulate the details of specific subjects a teacher is expected to have studied nor the minimum hours of coursework required. To push more prospective teachers toward adequate content preparation, some states have limited the number of hours a candidate can take in education as part of the bachelor degree. For example, in 1999, the Colorado state legislature adopted the following conditions for teacher licensure, including at the elementary grades:
a teacher preparation option must be available to students to complete as undergraduates;
the bachelor’s degree shall consist of no more than 120 semester hours; all candidates must complete an academic/ subject matter major and other general education requirements; and
the program shall include a minimum of 800 hours of organized and supervised school-based experiences.
Currently, in Texas, the teacher preparation component of a student’s