Middle School Content Knowledge: New

Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy


The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content and for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas. This goal was reorganized in 2017.

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Middle School Content Knowledge: New Hampshire results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NH-Middle-School-Content-Knowledge-84

Analysis of New Hampshire's policies

Content Test Requirements: New Hampshire offers a middle school (grades 5-8) license for middle school teachers. All new middle school teachers are required to pass a Praxis II single-subject content test to attain licensure. New Hampshire also allows teachers with secondary certificates to teach single subjects.

Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, New Hampshire offers a generalist K-8 license. Those teaching on this generalist license must pass the content test required of elementary teachers. Candidates for the K-8 license must obtain a passing score on a Praxis middle school single-subject content test. It's not clear whether teachers with a K-8 license, if teaching at the middle school level, are restricted to teaching only in the subject for which they have a content concentration and a passing score on the applicable Praxis single-subject content test. Because middle school licensure deficiencies are scored in "Middle School Licensure Deficiencies," it is not considered as part of the score for the Middle School Content Knowledge goal.


Recommendations for New Hampshire

Require subject-matter testing for all middle school teacher candidates.
New Hampshire wisely requires subject-matter tests for most middle school teachers but should address any deficiencies that undermine this policy (see "Middle School Licensure Deficiencies" analysis and recommendations).

State response to our analysis

New Hampshire recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis; however, the analysis was revised subsequent to the state's review. The state also indicated that the Council for Teacher Education (CTE) developed a proposal recommending:

1. An area of concentration shall be defined by a minimum of 15 credits in a content area
 2. Candidates successfully securing a K-8 elementary license should be limited to teach in their "area of concentration" at the middle school level, defined as grades 7 and 8. According to the state, the proposal was presented to New Hampshire's Professional Standards Board (PSB) in the fall of 2017.
New Hampshire cited the proposal language from the CTE meeting minutes, which states: "An 'area of concentration' should be defined. A minimum of 15 credits in subject matter content is proposed. These 15 credits shall sit outside the coursework completed within their major - elementary education. Additionally, K-8 licenses shall require successful completion of the Praxis II in the 'area of concentration.' Licensees should be limited to teaching their 'area of concentration' at the middle school level.

New Hampshire estimates that these proposed changes will be formally adopted by June 2018.

Updated: December 2017

Last word

NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.

How we graded

3A: Middle School Content Knowledge 

  • Content Tests: The state should require that all new middle school teachers pass a separately scored subject-matter test in every core academic area for which they are licensed to teach.
Content Tests
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state can earn full credit if it offers a middle school license and requires teachers to pass a licensing test in every core academic area in which they are licensed to teach. 
  • One-quarter credit: In some cases, a state can earn one-quarter of a credit for mitigating the negative aspects of a K-8 license, for example, requiring a single subject test to teach that subject at the middle school level.
  • 0/0 credit: The state will not earn any credit if it only offers a K-8 license and only requires an elementary content test.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.

[1] For additional research on the importance of subject matter knowledge, see: Dee, T. S., & Cohodes, S. R. (2008). Out-of-field teachers and student achievement: Evidence from matched-pairs comparisons. Public Finance Review, 36(1), 7-32.; Chaney, B. (1995). Student outcomes and the professional preparation of eighth-grade teachers in science and mathematics. NSF/NELS: 88 Teacher Transcript Analysis. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED389530; Weglinsky, H. (2000). How teaching matters: Bringing the classroom back into discussions of teacher quality (Policy Information Center report). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/PICTEAMAT.pdf ; A report published by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) concludes that a teacher's knowledge of math makes a difference in student achievement. National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. US Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf