Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
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: Montana offers middle-level certification (grades 4-8) for middle school teachers. All new middle school teachers in Montana are required to pass a secondary Praxis II subject-matter test to attain licensure.
Passage of the test is one part of three requirements for Montana's Assessment of Content Knowledge Verification. A candidate's student teaching/clinical practice score, content knowledge assessment score, and overall GPA factor into an overall content knowledge score between one and ten.
Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, Montana also offers a generalist K-8 license. 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.
Academic Requirements: The state does not explicitly require a major or minor in the subject areas that prospective middle school teachers plan to teach. Teachers with secondary licenses may also teach single subjects in middle school. Secondary candidates in science or social studies must complete either a major in the core academic content area or its coursework equivalent.
Administrative Rules of Montana 10.58.522; 532;533 and 10.57.102; 410; 412 Montana Assessment of Content Knowledge (MACK) http://opi.mt.gov/Leadership/Assessment-Accountability/Educator-Preparation/IR-Templates
Require subject-matter testing for all middle school teacher candidates.
Montana 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).
Middle school teachers licensed to teach multiple subjects should earn two subject-matter minors.
Montana should encourage middle school teachers licensed to teach multiple subjects to earn two subject-matter minors. This would allow candidates to gain sufficient knowledge to pass state licensing tests, and it would increase schools' staffing flexibility.
Montana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis, however this analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.
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.