Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Unfortunately, New Mexico allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license. The state requires teachers holding a K-8 license who are teaching a middle grade (5-9) subject area to demonstrate content knowledge in their subject area by:
New Mexico Administrative Code 6.61.2; 3.8; and 126.96.36.199
Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
New Mexico 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. Although the state is on the right track with its content knowledge requirements for those with K-8 licenses teaching the middle grades, New Mexico should require passage of a subject-matter test in each subject they will teach. The state 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 Mexico 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 Mexico noted that its middle level teaching license authorizes an individual to teach in a departmentalized setting. The individual must be endorsed in the subject they are teaching. Also, the applicant must have 24 semester hours in teaching field such as language arts, social studies, math, etc; and 3 semester hours in teaching reading.
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.