A message to secondary science teachers

Dear secondary science teachers,

We are reaching the time of year when many of you will start to be considering teaching assignments for next year.  In an effort to avoid some of the issues that we have heard of teachers encountering, we are sending out this email to encourage you to log in to your CACTUS account (https://www.uen.org/cactus/logon.do%3bjsessionid=6C4AAD56F48DD8A27B892162DBFB17EE) to know what science endorsements you currently have with your license.  This information is incredibly important when it comes to accepting new teaching assignments.

Why is this information necessary?  

In Utah, we have seven different endorsements for science: Biological Science, Environmental Science, Earth Science, Physical Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Middle Level Science.  Each of these endorsements are earned through college level coursework and the associated Praxis exam to demonstrate competency in the content areas associated with the science courses.  The endorsements that you hold determine the courses that you are eligible to teach and still be considered qualified.

You can find more about the requirements for secondary science endorsement on our website: http://schools.utah.gov/cert/Endorsements-ECE-License/Science/ScienceEndorsement.aspx

 

Why are you sending this out now?

 Now is the time of year that teachers start being asked to change or take on additional course assignments for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.  Before you agree to take on these classes, it’s important that you know whether or not you are qualified to teach the course.  If you are qualified, great!  If you are not qualified by endorsement, you would want to know what additional courses and Praxis exams you would need to take before accepting the assignment.

For example: A principal is in need of a teacher to take over a single Wildlife Biology elective class.  He approaches “Mr. Green” who currently teaches Environmental Science with an Environmental Science endorsement.  Mr. Green want to be a team player, and agrees to take on this new course and develop the curriculum for this class based on his interest in the topic.

HOWEVER, in September Mr. Green is contacted by HR and finds out he isn’t qualified to teach this course.  Mr. Green will need to hold a Biological Science endorsement to allow him to be qualified to teach this specific course.  As the year has started, the school isn’t able to change his teaching assignment to move him back to teaching just Environmental Science.  He then has two options:

  1. Apply for a state approved endorsement plan (SAEP) and agree to complete the outstanding courses he is missing and pass the Praxis Exam for Biological Science and gain the Biological Science endorsement.  Mr. Green would then be committed to college level coursework with the expense and scheduling that entails.
  2. Reduce his course load and not be a full time teacher for the academic school year.

This unfortunate scenario has occurred with science educators in our community, so this email is to help prevent this from happening in the future.

 

Yikes!  What do I need to do?

 Aside from logging in to CACTUS to know your current endorsements, I would highly encourage you to check with your district HR before accepting new teaching assignments to verify you would be qualified according to CACTUS.  This can help you to avoid being in Mr. Green’s predicament, and give you the knowledge you need to make the appropriate decision.

To help you, please take time to review the courses you can teach based on your endorsement as stated on the “Science Courses Required by Secondary Science Endorsements” document on the USOE Science website.  These are the course titles and codes as referenced in CACTUS, so if you are approached with a class title that isn’t on this list, you would want to check with your district HR to know what CACTUS course code it’s aligned to before you commit.

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