Middle School Teacher Preparation : Montana

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Middle School Teacher Preparation : Montana results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MT-Middle-School-Teacher-Preparation--6

Analysis of Montana's policies

Montana only requires that middle school teachers, who are allowed to teach on a generalist K-8 license, complete a teacher preparation program. The state does not explicitly require a major or minor in the subject areas that the candidates plan to teach. Teachers with secondary licenses may also teach single subjects in middle school. These candidates must complete either a major in the core academic content area, or its coursework equivalent, or pass the Praxis II content test.

All middle school teachers in Montana are not required to pass a subject-matter test to attain licensure.

Citation

Recommendations for Montana

Eliminate K-8 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, which is different and more advanced than what elementary teachers teach.  

Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
Montana should encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas. Middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject should earn a major in that area.

Require subject-matter testing for middle school teacher candidates.
Montana 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.

State response to our analysis

Montana declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.

Research rationale

A report published by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) concludes that a teacher's knowledge of math makes a difference in student achievement. U.S. Department of Education. Foundation for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education (2008).

For additional research on the importance of subject matter knowledge, see Dee and Chodes, "Out-of-Field Teaching and Student Achievement; Evidence from Matched-Pairs Comparisons." Public Finance Review (2008); as B. Chaney, "Student outcomes and the professional preparation of 8th grade teachers," in NSF/NELS 88: Teacher transcript analysis (Rockville, MD: Westat, 1995); H. Wenglinsky, How Teaching Matters: Bringing the Classroom Back Into Discussions of Teacher Quality (Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, 2000). For information on the "ceiling effect," see D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "When should we reward degrees for teachers?" in Phi Delta Kappan 80, No. 2 (1998): 134-138.