The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.
North Dakota offers middle-level certification (grades 5-8) for middle school teachers; candidates must earn a "middle level major," which includes 24 semester hours of content coursework in one content area. Teachers with secondary certificates are allowed to teach single subjects in middle school. Those candidates, too, are required to earn content-specific majors. Regrettably, North Dakota also allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K/1-8 license.
All new middle school teachers in North Dakota are also required to pass a Praxis II subject-matter test to attain licensure. However, only secondary and middle school candidates are required to pass a single-subject Praxis II content test to attain licensure. Those seeking the elementary license are only required to pass the general content test for elementary education, in which subscores are not provided; therefore, there is no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
North Dakota Administrative Code 67.1-02-02-02 www.ets.org/praxis
Eliminate K/1-8 generalist license.
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. 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.
North Dakota should also encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas, rather than a single major. Further, although North Dakota requires middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject to earn a major in that area, its requirement of only 24 credit hours falls short of the standard definition of a subject area major.
Require subject-matter testing for middle school teacher candidates.
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.
North Dakota disagreed with this analysis but did not offer any further explanation.