Middle School Teacher Preparation : North

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Middle School Teacher Preparation : North Carolina results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NC-Middle-School-Teacher-Preparation--6

Analysis of North Carolina's policies

North Carolina requires a middle grades certificate for all middle school teachers. Although the state clearly requires that candidates must complete a teacher preparation program, it is somewhat more ambiguous regarding coursework requirements. North Carolina's standards articulate that middle school teachers must "have depth in one or more specific content areas or disciplines," but it does not offer specific semester hour requirements.

Regrettably, North Carolina does not require content tests for initial licensure; such tests are only mandated once candidates apply for the standard professional 2 license, usually after three years. At that point, all new middle school teachers in North Carolina are also required to pass a single-subject Praxis II content test; a general content knowledge test is not an option.


Recommendations for North Carolina

Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
The state is commended for not allowing middle school teachers to teach on a K-8 generalist license. However, North Carolina should encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas, rather than a single major. 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 as a condition of initial licensure.

State response to our analysis

North Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. 

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.