Foundational understanding includes having the knowledge and skills through coursework and experiences to be an effective teacher. In order to be an effective teacher, knowledge of the subject matter that one teaches is critical. For the content area(s) that you teach, provide evidence in narrative form of your background knowledge. Evidence may include coursework you have taken, including:
  • Courses from your General Education Requirements as well as selected courses in your major, if appropriate,
  • Standardized assessment results that demonstrate your proficiency, and/or
  • Work you have completed in the content areas (e.g., research paper, honors thesis, research, or work experience).

You may attach artifacts if the artifacts will add value to your narrative; however, artifacts are not required for this component of your portfolio. Remember, your aim here is to concisely explain that you possess content area expertise within the subject(s) that you teach.

Elementary Education Requirement
As an elementary teacher, you most likely will teach mathematics, science, language arts, social studies, art, and health. You should provide evidence in your narrative of your background knowledge in each of the content areas listed.

Secondary Requirement
As a secondary teacher, provide evidence in your narrative of your background knowledge in the content area that you teach.

Foundational Understanding Rubric

Below Expectations
Meets Expectations
Exceeds Expectations
The description of content knowledge background lacks the information necessary to determine content knowledge in the appropriate content area(s).
The description of content knowledge background provides evidence of content knowledge in the appropriate content area(s).
In addition to meets expectations:
The description of the content knowledge background indicates an in-depth knowledge of the content area(s) through a thorough description and inclusion of artifacts.

Foundational Understanding Domain Exemplars
The attached link provides an exemplar for the domain, Foundational Understanding. Notice how the student provided examples of general course requirements taken in each of the subject matter areas, as well as experiences in both art and health. This response "Exceeds Expectations" as the student responds to each content area in an in-depth manner and provides artifacts to support the assertion that the student has content knowledge to teach the subject matter for which she will be responsible.
Here is a link to a second example of a student's response to the Foundational Understanding domain. Notice that this student also provided relevant scores on standardized assessments.

Secondary Program:

Social Studies:


Special Education Program: