The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Commendably, beginning Fall 2021, Michigan will no longer offer a K-8 license. The state is developing program approval standards for a grades 5-9 license and anticipates the first enrollment class Fall 2022.
Until then, Michigan still offers, but does not require, a middle school endorsement to teach grades 6-8. This endorsement can only be added to a K-8 license in order to teach single subjects at the 6-8 level. Secondary teachers can also teach single subjects grades 6-8 because the grade span of the secondary license is 6-12. Michigan's new certification structure will offer secondary licenses for grades 7-12. Both secondary teacher candidates and those adding a 6-8 endorsement to an elementary license must pass a subject-specific test.
Additionally, the state's current middle level endorsement (ZL) extends the grade range of an existing certificate by one level, resulting in 5-12 authorization for teachers possessing a secondary certificate and K-9 authorization for teachers possessing an elementary certificate with a separate content area endorsement. The new middle grades 5-9 license will replace the ZL endorsement.
Require content testing in all core areas.
Michigan 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 state should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests.
Michigan was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
3B: Middle School Licensure Requirements
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.