Middle School Teacher Preparation : Iowa

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Middle School Teacher Preparation : Iowa results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IA-Middle-School-Teacher-Preparation--6

Analysis of Iowa's policies

Iowa requires a middle school endorsement (grades 5-8) for all middle school teachers. Candidates must already hold a valid license with either a general elementary endorsement or one of the subject-matter secondary level endorsements. They must also complete 12 semester hours in two content core subjects, which include language arts, science, social studies and mathematics.

Middle school teachers in Iowa are not required to pass a subject-matter test to attain licensure.


Recommendations for Iowa

Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
Although Iowa is commended for not allowing middle school teachers to teach on a K-8 generalist license, it should allow middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject to earn a major in that area. It should also consider increasing its current coursework requirement to 15 semester hours, considering that 12 semester hours is considered low for earning a minor. 

Require subject-matter testing for middle school teacher candidates.
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.

State response to our analysis

Iowa cited its regulation regarding minimum content requirements for teaching endorsements, which address single-subject content requirements for grades K-8 and 5-12.

Research rationale

A report published by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) concludes that a teacher's knowledge of math makes a difference in student achievement. U.S. Department of Education. Foundation for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education (2008).

For additional research on the importance of subject matter knowledge, see Dee and Chodes, "Out-of-Field Teaching and Student Achievement; Evidence from Matched-Pairs Comparisons." Public Finance Review (2008); as B. Chaney, "Student outcomes and the professional preparation of 8th grade teachers," in NSF/NELS 88: Teacher transcript analysis (Rockville, MD: Westat, 1995); H. Wenglinsky, How Teaching Matters: Bringing the Classroom Back Into Discussions of Teacher Quality (Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, 2000). For information on the "ceiling effect," see D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "When should we reward degrees for teachers?" in Phi Delta Kappan 80, No. 2 (1998): 134-138.