Middle School Teacher Preparation : Maryland

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

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

Analysis of Maryland's policies

Maryland requires middle school education certification (grades 4-9) for all middle school teachers. However, these teachers are only required to complete a teacher preparation program; the state does not explicitly require a major or minor in these subject areas.

All new middle school teachers in Maryland are also required to pass a single-subject Praxis II content test to attain licensure; a general content knowledge test is not an option.

Citation

Recommendations for Maryland

Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
Although Maryland is commended for not allowing middle school teachers to teach on a K-8 generalist license, it should strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation. Maryland should encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas. Middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject should earn a major in that area.

State response to our analysis

Maryland asserted that its route for preparing middle-level teachers—an approved middle-level preparation program (4-9) based on National Middle School Association (NMSA) standards—requires depth and breadth in two content areas. Further, candidates are required to pass the appropriate middle-level content tests as a condition of licensure. While grade bands allow for some crossover of grade-level certification (e.g., secondary teachers may appropriately teach grades 7 and 8), actual certification at the middle level requires a specialized program.

Maryland also contended that it has two approved programs that lead to initial middle school certification. This program development resulted from actions of the Board of Education's decision to no longer issue a generalist license, which would allow new middle school teachers to teach on that license. This decision became effective July 1, 2009. Currently, other higher education institutions, in collaboration with the state, are in the process of developing middle-level preparation programs. 

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.