Anyone here "composite science" certified?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by sciencewrestler, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. sciencewrestler

    sciencewrestler Rookie

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    Dec 28, 2008

    I'm not sure if this issue is restricted to Texas or if it's nationwide, but I am certified to teach Earth Science (8th grade) and have had no luck in 4+ years in getting even an interview.

    Finally getting a bit tired of hearing the canned responses from well-meaning HR people, I got through to the science department heads at two districts and both of them bluntly said they will not hire a science teacher without a composite science certification. Both said this gave them flexibility when planning their schedule but personally (I didn't mention this of course) I thought it was a way for a school to save money i.e. four teachers rolled up into one.

    That's bad......for me that is.

    For those that don't know, a composite science certification is where one is certified to basically teach ALL sciences at the secondary level. Unfortunately, I am not really a big fan of biology (though I love animals - just not their insides ;)), physics is vaguely O.K. and chemistry does not interest me in the slightest. But the biggest stumbling block is that I really cannot afford another student loan & cannot possibly pay tuition (much less room/board) out of my own pocket for another two(?) years of courses to become proficient in those areas.

    I have always told myself I would only teach something I truly liked but am having to entertain the un-fun thought of trying to study for the supposedly brutal comp sci exam for this new-ish certification and if hired, then very possibly be shuffled around to various classrooms to teach subjects I do not like.

    Anyone here have any experience with this situation?
     
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  3. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Dec 29, 2008

    I'm a bit confused...you are not fully certified via the TExES to teach Composite Science 4-8 or 8-12? What test did you take for certificaton, the EXcET 6-12 Earth Science? Having worked on a school's master schedule I can see why a school would be reluctant to hire someone to only teach one grade. After the RIF this year, we had to move 8th grade science teachers down to 6th...no option...didn't like it, but forced to make the change. Also campuses are not sure of their numbers. If one can only teach one grade it makes it much more difficult. Once certified to teach in Texas, you do not normally have to take more coursework as all you have to do is take the appropriate TExES exam. The exceptions are when you are trying to become a master teacher. There is definitely a NEED for science teachers as my district is paying an additional $4,000 stipend for 7th and 8th grade science teachers.

    Have you tried subbing to get your foot in the door on a specific campus? If a principal wants you, it's much easier to get through HR.
     
  4. sciencewrestler

    sciencewrestler Rookie

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    Dec 29, 2008

    Sorry, didn't mean to cause confusion with the "8th grade" comment, it's just that is the one grade that I know of that consistantly includes earth science.

    As far as my certification, yes, it is for 6th through 12th grade (I took the ExCET exam back in '99).
    What's a "RIF"?

    Actually I subbed for three years, changed my mind about teaching, tried to return to my original career path which quickly proved a dead end (manufacturing quality control - bwahaha! - a lost cause unless I moved to China) then tried education again and here I am, jobless.
     
  5. sunshine*inc

    sunshine*inc Cohort

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    Dec 29, 2008


    RIF=Reduction in Force
     
  6. sciencewrestler

    sciencewrestler Rookie

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    Thanks!

    The lack of more responses is kind of a head-scratcher.

    I guess I really wanted to hear other's experiences with this certification, since it seems like such an odd way to teach, kind of like a coach who is told he/she must be an expert at such dissimilar sports as volleyball, baseball, track and rugby (how many people would want to do that??).
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Well, I haven't replied up until this point because I teach math, not science. But if you don't mind and outsider's point of view, here goes:

    I was math department chair of my school for about 8 years before my kids came along. (Then I took 6 years off to be a SAHM.) And my biggest gripe with my otherwise wonderful department was the number of teachers who wanted to stay with the one course with which they were most familiar... kind of similar to what you're talking about. (In NY, the certification is Mth 7-12. So technically we're all certified to teach anything in the building.)

    As chairman, my overriding concern wasn't what they wanted to teach, it was all about getting qualified people into the classes that needed to be covered. So I've always been a huge fan of having people experience, over time of course, all the courses we offer. (And that's a lot. We have 3 different tracks for grades 9-12, as well as one track for grades 6-8.)

    Let me share with you what happened in my department this fall:
    - Brother Gary was rushed to the hospital Labor Day weekend, jsut before classes started. He teaches Intro to Calculus and Honors Precalculus. He's still out.

    - September 10: My mastectomy. Obviously not elective surgery, I had it when they told me to have it. This year I teach Freshmen Algebra, both Honors and our slower track. I was out for a month.

    - September 12: Denise goes in to labor and is out for 8 weeks. This year she teaches Precalculus and Geometry.

    In the space of 2 weeks, we lost 3 math teachers. We hired 2 subs (for Bro. Gary and me) and members of the department covered for Denise (since that was the absence we knew about well in advance and had planned for.)

    Any teacher who can cover whatever needs to be covered is a far more valuable asset to a school than one who is limited.

    Given my choice, I would perfer to teach Precalculus and Intro to Calculus-- the material is so much more interesting than what I'm currently teaching. And eventually I'll work my way back there. But when I was rehired in 2006, it was before they knew they had an opening. That was OK-- they knew they could juggle things and put me wherever they ended up needing a math teacher. That year I taught Math 7.

    It's great to have a preference. But get a certification that makes you more valuable-- in other words, easier to hire.

    You're certified to teach 8th graders. Let's say your'e hired for next year to do just that. But then the population shifts a bit, as it does every year. They dont' need an extra 8th grade teacher, they need one for 7th. It's so much easier for them to juggle someone already in the department than to fire you and find someone else who is qualified to do the job.
     
  8. sciencewrestler

    sciencewrestler Rookie

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    Thanks Alice for all that info. :thumb:

    Yes, I've had several colleagues tell me that being composite certified would make me more marketable, and I still may consider that option.

    But I haven't taken a chemistry course since 1979(!), biology since 1981 and physics - a "conceptual" physics i.e. basically no math - since 1990. Even if I managed to pass the (reportedly) difficult cert exam, I feel I would be very unprepared to teach those subjects with much confidence & I think the last thing a school wants nowadays is a teacher who only vaguely knows the material, especially when it involves science. :eeek: And kids can pick up on that & they probably won't feel that great about the course either - not good!

    I thought about testing for a history cert - I love history - but have heard that schools now want a composite certification for THAT too i.e. history/government/economics/geography. Government and economics would be the tougher parts for me to pass, but I least I have some personal interest in those fields (I did take what's called a business calculus course in college for my first degree & squeaked by with a "C", though I always did well in geometry-related math classes).
     
  9. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I am elementary certified but took a lot of math and science courses as electives. My first job was teaching elementary science. After being a SAHM for a while, I wanted to get back to teaching but really wanted to try middle school. I took praxis tests to add science onto my degree and got a job in 6th grade. I could teach any science through 9th grade with that certification. It seems that middle school teachers are harder to find but it's not lab intensive so it might be great in your situation. Smaller schools may appreciate the flexibility of the composite degree but I'm really not familiar since we don't have it in PA.
     
  10. sciencewrestler

    sciencewrestler Rookie

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    Jan 1, 2009

    ^ Thanks Mary.

    Whine warning! :D It's weird - with all the talk about the environment right now (though I chose that field back in '97), one would think us Earth Science people would get a wee bit more respect in the administration building. :) And while I know not every kid is into the 4 sciences that make up that field - oceanography, astronomy, geology and meteorology - at least they are something that they have direct exposure to on a daily basis & also have some personal experience with to make the course easier to get through.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    What do you mean about the lack of respect?
     
  12. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    I'm early childhood ed. certified, with advanced certification in child development and reading. I work in an elementary buildng, obviously. However, I know that, each year, we fill out a form about the following years' grade placements, where we are allowed to request to:
    1. Stay in same position
    2. change grades
    3. leave the building altogether.
    Do we always get our first choice? No way! The population changes every year, and we may suddenly have no need for 4 teachers in one grade - and have extra need for another teacher in another grade. Or we may not qualify for an intervention teachers for the following year, meaning that those people have to be shuffled around. In my school, we have 1 PreK teacher, 4 K teachers and 3 each in grades 1-5. That makes 20 classroom positions. 9 of the teachers in my school are in different positions than they were last year - some because they requested it and others who were forced to move with shifting enrollment.

    So, what I'm saying - even teachers who are already in a school building and are pretty secure about at least having a job the next year don't have full say about what they get to teach. It's the nature of the job.

    If you go into an interview only able to teach 1 grade, 1 course....well, you've just made yourself a lot less attractive as an employee. You've almost made yourself into a liability to the system - once they hire you and you've reached tneure, they'd be required to find you a position every year, no matter if they really need a full time 8th grade earth science teacher or not.
     
  13. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    We teach earth and space science in 6th grade. They get meteorology in grade 5 so we cover changing earth, space and oceanography. In many parts of PA, the "real" earth science course is taught in grade 9 but higher level students can opt out so they can start Bio a year early. Therefore, those students never get the lab portions of Earth Science. However, the new state tests are heavy on the environmental studies so some districts around here are now requiring 9th graders back in the course.
     
  14. sciencewrestler

    sciencewrestler Rookie

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    "lack of respect". Well, it's more of a gut feeling, at least in the district I worked in. As I mentioned elsewhere, when E.S. was offered as an elective in high school (E.S. in middle school is now combined with other sciences like chemistry so I hesitate to even call it Earth Science anymore) it seemed to be used as a....repository.....for students who didn't do well in other science courses. "Put'em in there - that environmental stuff is easy." :( As if every student wants to be a chemical engineer or get a doctorate in physics i.e. I don't understand this huge push behind those two particular science courses.
     
  15. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Jan 1, 2009

    Another reason schools want teachers to be "composite" certified is that there are several subjects covered on the 8th grade Science TAKS.

    Here's the basic ratio:

    TAKS Objectives:

    1: Nature of Science 14 Q or 28%
    2: Living Systems and the Environment 12 Q or 24%
    3: Structures and Properties of Matter 6 Q or 12%
    4: Motion, Forces, and Energy 6 Q or 12%
    5: Earth and Space Systems 12 Q or 24%
    Total items on the actual test 50 Q

    There are also 10 field questions in varying areas. As I mentioned, science is highly regarded in my district. Even those not certified and enrolled in an AC program get a $4000 yearly stipend to teach
    7th grade and higher science.

    Since you are already certified, you don't have to take any more course work as you are eligible to sit for any TExES exam. Just go ahead and take the 4-8 composite first, then decide if you want to take the 8-12. The 4-8 test isn't that difficult.
     
  16. sciencewrestler

    sciencewrestler Rookie

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    Jan 9, 2009

    (oops forgot about my own thread!) Thanks DallasTeacher for all that info.
     

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