Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions

1.1 Candidates demonstrate an understanding of the 10 InTASC standards at the appropriate progression level(s)1 in the following categories: the learner and learning; content; instructional practice; and professional responsibility.

Provider Responsibilities

1.2 Providers ensure that candidates use research and evidence to develop an understanding of the teaching profession and use both to measure their P-12 students’ progress and their own professional practice.

1.3 Providers ensure that candidates apply content and pedagogical knowledge as reflected in outcome assessments in response to standards of Specialized Professional Associations (SPA), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), states, or other accrediting bodies (e.g., National Association of Schools of Music – NASM).

1.4 Providers ensure that candidates demonstrate skills and commitment that afford all P-12 students access to rigorous college- and career-ready standards (e.g., Next Generation Science Standards, National Career Readiness Certificate, Common Core State Standards).

1.5 Providers ensure that candidates model and apply technology standards as they design, implement and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; and enrich professional practice.


All P-12 students: Defined as children or youth attending P-12 schools including, but not limited to, students with disabilities or exceptionalities, students who are gifted, and students who represent diversity based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, language, religion, sexual identification, and/or geographic origin.

Candidate: In this report, the term “candidate” refers to individuals preparing for professional education positions.

Completer: A term to embrace candidates exiting from degree programs and also candidates exiting from other higher education programs or preparation programs conducted by alternative providers that may or may not offer a certificate or degree. Note: In Standard 1, the subjects of components are “candidates.” The specific knowledge and skills described will develop over the course of the preparation program and may be assessed at any point, some near admission, others at key transitions such as entry to clinical experiences and still others near candidate exit as preparation is completed.

Provider: An inclusive term referring to the sponsoring organization for preparation, whether it is an institution of higher education, a district- or state-sponsored program, or an alternative pathway organization.

1Progression levels are described in InTASC model core teaching standards and learning progressions for teachers 1.0 (2011), pp. 16-47.



This standard asserts the importance of a strong content background and foundation of pedagogical knowledge for all candidates. Teaching is complex and preparation must provide opportunities for candidates to acquire knowledge and skills that can move all P-12 students significantly forward—in their academic achievements, in articulating the purpose of education in their lives and in building independent competence for life-long learning. Such a background includes experiences that develop deep understanding of major concepts and principles within the candidate’s field, including college and career-ready expectations.1 Moving forward, college- and career-ready standards can be expected to include additional disciplines, underscoring the need to help students master a range of learner goals conveyed within and across disciplines. Content and pedagogical knowledge expected of candidates is articulated through the InTASC standards. These standards are:

  • Standard #1: Learner Development. The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences.
  • Standard #2: Learning Differences. The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high standards.
  • Standard #3: Learning Environments. The teacher works with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self motivation.
  • Standard #4: Content Knowledge. The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners to assure mastery of the content.
  • Standard #5: Application of Content. The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues.
  • Standard #6: Assessment. The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making.
  • Standard #7: Planning for Instruction. The teacher plans instruction that supports every student in meeting rigorous learning goals by drawing upon knowledge of content areas, curriculum, cross-disciplinary skills, and pedagogy, as well as knowledge of learners and the community context.
  • Standard #8: Instructional Strategies. The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways.
  • Standard #9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice. The teacher engages in ongoing professional learning and uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (learners, families, other professionals, and the community), and adapts practice to meet the needs of each learner.
  • Standard #10: Leadership and Collaboration. The teacher seeks appropriate leadership roles and opportunities to take responsibility for student learning and development, to collaborate with learners, families, colleagues, other school professionals, and community members to ensure learner growth, and to advance the profession.

Content knowledge describes the depth of understanding of critical concepts, theories, skills, processes, principles, and structures that connect and organize ideas within a field.2 Research indicates that students learn more when their teachers have a strong foundation of content knowledge.3

[T]eachers need to understand subject matter deeply and flexibly so they can help students create useful cognitive maps, relate one idea to another, and address misconceptions. Teachers need to see how ideas connect across fields and to everyday life. This kind of understanding provides a foundation for pedagogical content knowledge that enables teachers to make ideas accessible to others.4

These essential links between instruction and content are especially clear in Darling-Hammond’s description of what the Common Core State Standards mean by “deeper learning”:

  • An understanding of the meaning and relevance of ideas to concrete problems
  • An ability to apply core concepts and modes of inquiry to complex real-world tasks
  • A capacity to transfer knowledge and skills to new situations, to build on and use them
  • Abilities to communicate ideas and to collaborate in problem solving
  • An ongoing ability to learn to learn5

Pedagogical content knowledge in teaching includes: core activities of teaching, such as figuring out what students know; choosing and managing representations of ideas; appraising, selecting and modifying textbooks; . . . deciding among alternative courses of action and analyze(ing) the subject matter knowledge and insight entailed in these activities.”6 It is crucial to “good teaching and student understanding.7

The development of pedagogical content knowledge involves a shift in teachers’ understanding from comprehension of subject matter for themselves, to advancing their students’ learning through presentation of subject matter in a variety of ways that are appropriate to different situations—reorganizing and partitioning it and developing activities, metaphors, exercises, examples and demonstrations—so that it can be grasped by students.8

Understanding of pedagogical content knowledge is complemented by knowledge of learners—where teaching begins. Teachers must understand that learning and developmental patterns vary among individuals, that learners bring unique individual differences to the learning process, and that learners need supportive and safe learning environments to thrive. Teachers’ professional knowledge includes the ways in which cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical development occurs.9 Neuroscience is influencing education, and future educators should be well-versed in findings from brain research, including how to facilitate learning for students with varying capacities, experiences, strengths and approaches to learning.

To be effective, teachers also must be prepared to collaborate with families to support student success.10 When teachers understand families and communicate and build relationships with them, students benefit. Many studies confirm that strong parent–teacher relationships relate to positive student outcomes for students, such as healthy social development, high student achievement and high rates of college enrollment.11 Thus, by giving teachers the support they need to work with families, educator preparation providers can have an even greater impact on student learning and development.

The Commission’s development of this standard and its components was influenced especially by the InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, the Common Core State Standards Initiative,12 and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Five Core Propositions.13 Additionally the Commission used the work of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)14 and the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP).15

1Council of Chief State School Officers [CCSSO]. (2011). InTASC model core teaching standards. Retrieved from National Board for Professional Teaching Standards [NBPTS]. (2002). What teachers should know and be able to do. Retrieved from

2Ball, D. L., Thames, M. H., & Phelps, G. (2008). Content knowledge for teaching: What makes it special? Journal of Teacher Education, 59(5), 389-407. Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

3Schacter, J., & Thum, Y. M. (2004). Paying for high- and low-quality teaching. Economics of Education Review, 23(4), 411–430. American Council on Education [ACE]. (1999). To touch the future: Transforming the way teachers are taught. An action agenda for college and university presidents. Washington, DC.: Author. Retrieved from Hill, H. C., Rowan, B., & Ball, D. L. (2005). Effects of teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching on student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 42 (2), 371-406.

4Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1–22.

5Darling-Hammond, L. Power Point presentation, “Supporting Deeper Learning.” E. Elliot, personal communication, January 29, 2013.

6Ball, D. L. (2000). Bridging practices: Intertwining content and pedagogy in teaching and learning to teach. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(3), 241-247.

7Cochran, K. F., DeRuiter, J. A., & King, A. R. (1993). Pedagogical content knowing: An integrative model for teacher preparation. Journal of Teacher Education, 44(4), 263-272).

8Shulman, Knowledge and teaching, p. 13.

9InTASC model core teaching standards, p. 8.

10Goe, L., Bell, C., & Little, O. (2008). Approaches to evaluating teacher effectiveness: A research synthesis. Washington DC: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality.

11For a discussion of the benefits of family engagement at different developmental stages, please see Harvard Family Research Project’s Family Involvement Makes a Difference publication series, available online at

12Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from

13NBPTS, What teachers should know and be able to do.

14International Society in Technology Education (ISTE). (2008) Advancing digital age teaching. Retrieved from

15Harvard Family Research Project. (2006/2007). Family Involvement Makes a Difference publication series. Retrieved from

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