Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Unfortunately, Montana allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license. Preparation for a license with a broad K-8 grade span offers no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
Montana also offers, but does not require, a middle grades endorsement to teach grades 4-8.
Administrative Rules of Montana 10.58.532 and 10.57.410;410
Eliminate the generalist license.
Montana 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. Adopting middle school teacher preparation policies for all such teachers will help ensure that students in grades 7 and 8 have teachers who are appropriately prepared to teach grade-level content.
Montana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.