Progress on this goal since 2017
- Stayed the same
Do states’ licensure structures appropriately distinguish between the knowledge and skills needed to teach middle grades and the knowledge and skills needed to teach elementary grades?
Yes. State does not offer a K-8 license. : AL, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV, WY
No. State has insufficient license structures. : AK, AZ, CA, ID, MT, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OK, OR, SD, UT, VT, WA, WI
AK: State offers a K-8 license.
AZ: State permits licensed elementary teachers to teach middle school students in self-contained classrooms.
CA: State permits licensed elementary teachers to teach middle school students in self-contained classrooms.
ID: State offers a K-8 license.
MD: Maryland allows elementary teachers to teach in departmentalized middle schools, if not less than 50% of the teaching assignment is within the elementary education grades.
ME: Effective July 2022, Maine will no longer offer a K-8 license.
MI: Starting Fall 2021, the state will no longer offer a K-8 license, and will begin to phase in a 5-9 middle grades license.
MT: State offers a K-8 license.
ND: State offers a 1-8 license.
NE: State permits licensed elementary teachers to teach middle school students in self-contained classrooms.
NH: State offers a K-8 license.
NM: State offers a K-8 license. New Mexico requires K-8 teachers to demonstrate content knowledge in the applicable middle grades subject area in which they are going to teach.
NV: State offers a K-8 license.
OK: State offers a 1-8 license, with the exception of mathematics.
OR: State permits licensed elementary teachers to teach middle school students in self-contained classrooms.
SD: State offers a K-4 or 5-8 self-contained licenses.
UT: State permits licensed elementary teachers to teach middle school students in self-contained classrooms. And requires generalists wishing to teach grades 7-8 in a secondary setting to obtain the applicable sing-subject endorsement.
VT: State permits licensed elementary teachers to teach middle school students in self-contained classrooms. K-6 licenses can be extended to K-8 upon request for a teacher working in a K-8 school.
WA: State offers a K-8 license.
WI: State offers a K-9 license.
Updated: February 2020
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General Teacher Preparation
- Program Entry
- Teacher Shortages and Surpluses
- Program Performance Measures
- Program Reporting Requirements
- Student Teaching/Clinical Practice
Elementary Teacher Preparation
Secondary Teacher Preparation
- Middle School Content Knowledge
- Middle School Licensure Requirements
- Secondary Content Knowledge
- Secondary Licensure Requirements
Special Education Teacher Preparation
Teacher and Principal Evaluation
Retaining Effective Teachers
Early Childhood Preparation
How we graded
3B: Middle School Licensure Requirements
- Specific Licensure: The state should not permit middle school teachers to teach on a generalist license that does not differentiate between the preparation of middle school teachers and the preparation of elementary teachers.
The total goal score is earned based on the following:
- Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it requires teachers to teach on a middle school license (No K-8).
- 1/2 credit: The state will earn one half credit for either maintaining specific requirements limiting elementary teachers ability to teach in departmentalized middle schools or requiring teachers holding a K-8 license to demonstrate some relevant content knowledge at the middle school level.
- 0/0 credit: The state will not earn any credit if it offers a K-8 license or a K-8 license in addition to a middle school license, allowing elementary teachers to teach single subjects at the middle school level without passing single-subject tests, or if the state offers a K-8 license and teachers can teach grades 7 and 8 in a self-contained classroom.
Middle school grades are critical years of schooling. It is in these years that far too many students fall through the cracks. However, requirements for the preparation and licensure of middle school teachers can be especially problematic. States need to distinguish the knowledge and skills needed by middle school teachers from those needed by an elementary teacher. Whether teaching a single subject in a departmentalized setting or teaching multiple subjects in a self-contained setting, middle school teachers must be able to teach significantly more advanced content than elementary teachers. In order to do so, middle school teachers must be deeply knowledgeable about every subject they will be licensed to teach, and able to pass a licensing test in every core subject to demonstrate this knowledge. The notion that someone should be identically prepared to teach first grade or eighth grade mathematics seems ridiculous, but states that license teachers on a K-8 generalist certificate essentially endorse this idea.
 For additional research on the importance of subject matter knowledge, see: Dee, T. S., & Cohodes, S. R. (2008). Out-of-field teachers and student achievement: Evidence from matched-pairs comparisons. Public Finance Review, 36(1), 7-32.; Chaney, B. (1995). Student outcomes and the professional preparation of eighth-grade teachers in science and mathematics. NSF/NELS: 88 Teacher Transcript Analysis. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED389530; Weglinsky, H. (2000). How teaching matters: Bringing the classroom back into discussions of teacher quality (Policy Information Center report). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/PICTEAMAT.pdf ; A report published by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) concludes that a teacher's knowledge of math makes a difference in student achievement. National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. US Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf.