Middle School Content Knowledge: Oregon

Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that middle school teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge of appropriate grade-level content. This goal has been revised since 2017.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). Middle School Content Knowledge: Oregon results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/OR-Middle-School-Content-Knowledge-91

Analysis of Oregon's policies

Content Test Requirements: Oregon offers Foundational Level endorsements in English language arts, math, science, and social studies. These are the middle school level endorsements and require a single-subject content test.

However, the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission Program Review and Standards Handbook, describes the model for demonstrating content knowledge, that includes the following options: 

  • Option 1: passage of a content test
  • Option 2: program completion (for those endorsements for which there is not a test)
  • Option 3: bachelor's degree or higher in the endorsement area
  • Option 4: a score of 70 or higher on the Teacher Standards and Practice's Commission (TSPC) content preparation matrix. The matrix factors in scores from the applicable content test.
Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: Because Oregon's elementary endorsement chart lists core content subjects and self-contained course codes through grade 8, it appears elementary teachers can teach grades 7 and 8 in a self-contained classroom. Because middle school licensure deficiencies are scored in Middle School Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Middle School Content Knowledge goal.

Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Because provisional and emergency licensure requirements are scored in Provisional and Emergency Licensure , only the test requirements for the state's initial license are considered as part of this goal.

Citation

Recommendations for Oregon

Require subject-matter testing for all middle school teacher candidates.
Oregon wisely requires subject-matter tests for most middle school teachers but should address any deficiencies that undermine this policy (see Middle School Licensure Deficiencies analysis and recommendations).

State response to our analysis

Oregon did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.

Updated: February 2020

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