Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
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: Iowa requires that middle school teachers add a 5-8 endorsement to either a K-6 endorsement or a 5-12 subject-matter endorsement. All new middle school teachers in Iowa have the option of passing a single-subject Praxis II content test and pedagogy test, or passing the edTPA test, to attain licensure. The edTPA is not a content test.
Academic Requirements: In addition to middle school pedagogy coursework, middle school candidates in Iowa are required to complete two subject-matter concentrations in a core subject of at least 12 semester hours each. Middle school candidates can teach in core content areas for which they have earned a concentration or other noncore areas.
Test Requirements https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/educator-quality/practitioner-preparation#Required_Test_Qualifying_Scores Iowa Administrative Code 281-79.15(5) and 282-13.27 Memo from Director of Department of Education July 21, 2014 "Authorization of Performance Assessment"
Require content testing in all core areas.
Iowa 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 option of the edTPA means that middle school teachers need not pass a content test at all in order to be certified. While performance assessments such as the edTPA provide an opportunity for teacher candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in sample lessons, they are not designed to measure the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills needed in a single area.
Iowa recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.