Middle School Content Knowledge: Ohio

2017 Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy

Goal

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.

Best Practice

Analysis of Ohio's policies

Content Test Requirements: Ohio requires a middle childhood license (grades 4-9) for middle school teachers. All new middle school teachers in Ohio are required to pass a specific subject-area test from the Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE) tests to attain licensure. Teachers may also add a middle school generalist endorsement to an existing middle school license in order to add grades 4-6 in the additional content areas. Teachers adding this endorsement must complete an additional six semester hours in each of the content areas to be added and must pass either the middle school content test in the applicable subject area or the elementary content test.

Academic Requirements:  Middle school candidates in Ohio must earn areas of concentration in at least two content areas. The state defines "areas of concentration" as earning the equivalent of two minors (at least 12 semester hours). Teachers with secondary certificates are allowed to teach single subjects in middle school. Those candidates must earn an academic major in all areas to be taught.

Citation

Recommendations for Ohio

Ensure that content tests adequately measure sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Ohio should ensure that its subject-matter tests for middle school teacher candidates is sufficiently rigorous. The state should ensure that the required passing scores on each test reflect high levels of performance. Doing so will help to ensure that every student is taught by a teacher with adequate subject-matter knowledge.

State response to our analysis

Ohio recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis and was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.


Updated: December 2017

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