The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Unfortunately, Nebraska allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license if they are in self-contained classrooms. Those teaching on this generalist license need only pass the content test required of elementary teachers. Therefore, there is no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
Nebraska offers, but does not require, middle school endorsements middle grades (grades 5-9) endorsement.
Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
Nebraska 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. Nebraska should ensure that students in grades 7 and 8 have teachers who are appropriately prepared to teach grade-level content.
Nebraska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis and stated that it continues to disagree with NCTQ's analysis that does not recognize Nebraska's Guidelines to which all institutions are held accountable. The state further provided that based on the NCTQ standard, the criteria used, and the standards for acceptable documentation, Nebraska concedes that the analysis is factually accurate. The state additionally provided that its data indicates that this option is rarely applied.
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.