The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
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 must have a content concentration in English/language arts, mathematics, social studies, or general science and must obtain a passing score on the applicable 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.
New Hampshire offers, but does not require, middle school licenses (grades 5-8).
New Hampshire Administrative Rules for Education 507.11; .26; .29; .55; .56; and 514.01
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.
New Hampshire provided edits to the analysis as follows:
New Hampshire allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license. Those teaching on this generalist license need to pass the content test required of elementary teachers. Additionally, candidates for the K-8 license need a content concentration in English/language arts, mathematics, social studies, or general science and must obtain a passing score on the applicable Praxis middle school single-subject content test.
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.