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: Michigan offers an endorsement to teach grades 6-8 that may be added to an elementary or secondary license. All new middle school teachers in Michigan must pass a subject-matter test, the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification.
Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, Michigan allows teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license in self-contained classrooms. Because middle school licensure deficiencies are scored in 3-B "Middle School Licensure Deficiencies," it is not considered as part of the score for the Middle School Content Knowledge goal.
Require subject-matter testing for all middle school teacher candidates.
Michigan wisely requires subject-matter tests for most middle school teachers, but should address any deficiencies that undermine this policy (see Goal 3-B: Middle School Licensure Deficiencies analysis and recommendations).
Michigan recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also referenced its comments in goal 2-C: Elementary Reading, related to a proposed revision to Michigan's teaching certificate structure. Michigan indicated that a grades 5-9 certificate is proposed, with narrower content area authorizations than the current elementary generalist certificate carries. It is envisioned that each content area carried on this certificate will have its own licensure assessment in order to assure depth of content knowledge appropriate to teaching at the middle school level.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
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.