The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Although Minnesota's elementary license is typically valid for grades K-6, teacher candidates may teach grades 7 and 8 if they are in
self-contained classrooms. Those seeking the elementary license are only required to pass the general content test for elementary education, in which subscores are
not provided. Therefore, there is no assurance that all middle school
teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
Minnesota also offers the following middle-level endorsements to teach grades 5-8 for: communication arts and literature, mathematics, social studies and general science.
Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
Minnesota should not allow middle school teachers to teach on a generalist license that does not differentiate between the preparation of middle school teachers and that of elementary teachers. 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 need not pass a subject-matter test in each subject they teach. Minnesota should ensure that students in grades 7 and 8 have teachers who are appropriately prepared to teach grade-level content.
Require content testing in all core areas.
Minnesota 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's policy of only requiring middle school teachers who teach multiple subjects to take the same subject-matter test as elementary teachers is simply not adequate. Minnesota should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests.
Minnesota declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.
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.