The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content and for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Content Test Requirements: In California, only candidates who wish to earn a multiple-subject teaching credential must pass all three subtests of the state's subject-matter examination. Those who want a single-subject credential may demonstrate their subject-matter competence by either completing a state-approved subject-matter preparation program or passing the appropriate subject-matter examination.
Academic Requirements: California does not require a subject-matter major or minor.
Require content testing in all core areas.
California should require subject-matter testing for all middle school teacher candidates in every core academic area they intend to teach as a condition of initial licensure. The state's policy of only requiring middle school teachers who teach multiple subjects to take the same subject-matter test as elementary teachers is simply not adequate. Allowing middle school teachers to teach a single subject without passing a content test is unacceptable. To ensure meaningful middle school content tests, California should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance.
Middle school teachers licensed to teach multiple subjects should earn two subject-matter minors.
California should encourage middle school teachers licensed to teach multiple subjects to earn two subject-matter minors. This would allow candidates to gain sufficient knowledge to pass state licensing tests, and it would increase schools' staffing flexibility.
California declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.
3A: Middle School Content Knowledge
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.