The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Unfortunately, North Dakota allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist 1-8 license. These candidates 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.
North Dakota offers, but does not require, a middle school license (grades 5-8).
North Dakota Administrative Code 67.1-02-02-02
Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
North Dakota 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. North Dakota 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.
North Dakota 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 should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests.
North Dakota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
3B: Middle School Licensure Requirements
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.