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.
Licensure rules in Oregon allow teachers to "accept any instructional assignment from prekindergarten through grade 12 within
the scope of the subject-matter endorsement(s)."
indicate that "the scope of the endorsement shall be determined by the
National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) course codes
associated with the endorsement." Because the elementary endorsement
chart lists core content subjects and self-contained course codes
through grade 8, it appears that elementary teachers can teach grades 7
and 8 in a self-contained classroom. Therefore, there is no assurance that all middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
Oregon also offers, but does not require foundational level endorsements in: English Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. These are the state's middle school level endorsements.
Oregon Administrative Rules 584-210-0030; 584-210-0020; 584-220-0015; 584-220-0085; 0090; 0095; 0100 Course to Endorsement Catalogue https://www.oregon.gov/ode/educator-resources/Pages/Teacher-Licensure.aspx
Prepare middle school teachers to teach middle school.
Oregon 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. Adopting middle school teacher preparation policies for all such teachers will help ensure that students in grades 7 and 8 have teachers who are appropriately prepared to teach grade-level content, which is different and more advanced than what elementary teachers teach.
Require content testing in all core areas.
Oregon 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. Oregon should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests.
Oregon did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
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.