The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
California has not adopted specific middle school teacher preparation policies. The state offers both a K-12 Single Subject Teaching
Credential and a K-12 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential; therefore,
the type of credential that middle school teachers are required to have
depends on whether they intend to teach in a self-contained or
a departmentalized classroom.
California Education Code 44258 and 44258.1
Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
California should not allow middle school teachers to teach on a generalist license that does not differentiate between the preparation of middle school teachers and that of elementary teachers. These teachers are less likely to be adequately prepared to teach core academic areas at the middle school level because their preparation requirements are not specific to the middle or secondary levels, and they need not pass a subject-matter test in each subject they teach. California should ensure that students in grades 7 and 8 have teachers who are appropriately prepared to teach grade-level content.
Close the loophole that allows teachers to add middle-grade levels to an existing license without demonstrating content knowledge.
California allows teachers to add a single-subject credential to a certificate with either program completion or the passing of a content test. NCTQ urges the state to require that all teachers who add the middle-grade levels to their certificates pass a rigorous subject-matter test to ensure content knowledge of all subject areas before they are allowed in the classroom.
California did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
3B: Middle School Licensure Requirements
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.