Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Commendably, Maryland does not offer a K-8 generalist license. However, the state allows elementary teachers to teach in departmentalized middle schools, if not less than 50 percent of the
teaching assignment is within the elementary education grades. This is
especially worrisome considering that elementary teachers in the state
are only required to pass the Praxis II Elementary Education:
Instructional Practice and Applications test, which is not even an
adequate assessment of content knowledge for elementary teachers.
COMAR 13A.12.02.05 and 13A.12.01.13
Ensure that all middle school teachers are prepared to teach grade-level content.
Maryland should not allow elementary teachers to teach in a departmentalized middle schools. 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 are not required to pass a subject-matter test in each subject they teach. Although Maryland attempts to mitigate this policy by requiring that only half of such teachers' time can be spent teaching middle school students, the policy continues to allow teachers that are not adequately prepared to teach middle school students.
Maryland recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. Additionally, the state noted that it is currently exploring the requirements of certification, which includes the appropriateness of current grade bands.
3B: Middle School Licensure Deficiencies
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.