Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Unfortunately, Nevada 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. This is especially worrisome considering that elementary teachers in the state are only required to pass the Praxis II Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications test, which is not even an adequate assessment of content knowledge for elementary teachers. Therefore, there is no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
Nevada offers, but does not require, middle school licenses. The state no longer specifies a grade span for those licenses but allows a teacher to teach in any middle school or junior high school.
Nevada Administrative Code 391.090, .111; .113; .120 Assembly Bill 77 (2017) Sections 19 and 21 https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/79th2017/Bills/AB/AB77_EN.pdf
Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
Nevada 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. Nevada 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.
Nevada 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's policy of only requiring middle school teachers who teach multiple subjects to take the same subject-matter test as elementary teachers is simply not adequate. Nevada should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests.
Nevada recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. Nevada stated that beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, the K-8 generalist elementary license will be changed to K-5 and middle school teachers will be required to secure a Grade 6-8 license. In addition, as noted by the state in the goal 3-A: Middle School Content Knowledge response, in accordance with full-state certification as outlined in the United States Department of Education-approved ESSA plan, the Commission on Professional Standards has held Public Workshops to amend regulatory language, including that all middle school educators pass the corresponding content area examination for the subject they teach. The Nevada Department of Education anticipates these will become effective in early 2018, pending Public Hearings by the Legislative Commission.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
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.