Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: New

Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy


The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: New Hampshire results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/NH-Middle-School-Licensure-Deficiencies-84

Analysis of New Hampshire's policies

Unfortunately, New Hampshire allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license. Those teaching on this generalist license need only pass the content test required of elementary teachers. Candidates for the K-8 license have a content concentration in English/language arts, mathematics, social studies or general science and must obtain a passing score on the applicable Praxis II 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 II single-subject content test.

New Hampshire offers, but does not require, middle school licenses (grades 5-8).


Recommendations for New Hampshire

Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
New Hampshire 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. Requiring K-8 candidates to complete a core concentration and pass a Praxis II middle school level subject area exam is a step in the right direction. However, there is no assurance that candidates will have mastered middle-school level content in the other subject-areas they are licensed to teach.  Stronger policy would be to eliminate the generalist license altogether. New Hampshire 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.

New Hampshire 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.

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 2 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

3B: Middle School Licensure Deficiencies 

  • Specific Licensure: The state should not permit middle school teachers to teach on a generalist license that does not differentiate between the preparation of middle school teachers and the preparation of elementary teachers.
Specific Licensure
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it requires teachers to teach on a middle school license (No K-8). 
  • 1/2 credit: The state will earn one half credit for either maintaining specific requirements limiting elementary teachers ability to teach in departmentalized middle schools or requiring teachers holding a K-8 license to demonstrate some relevant content knowledge at the middle school level.
  • 0/0 credit: The state will not earn any credit if it offers a K-8 license or a K-8 license in addition to a middle school license, allowing elementary teachers to teach single subjects at the middle school level without passing single-subject tests, or if the state offers a K-8 license and teachers can teach grades 7 and 8 in a self-contained classroom. 

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.