The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.
Oregon offers middle-level endorsements (grades 5-9) for middle school teachers. Candidates must demonstrate mastery of one subject matter or specialty area by doing one or more of the following:
Oregon Administrative Rules 584-017-0120, -0130, -0140, 584-060-0012 http://www.orela.nesinc.com/OR6_whoshouldtest.asp
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. Even though Oregon has limited the grade level band on its license to grades 3-8, that still combines clearly elementary subject-matter with middle school level. 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.
Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
Oregon should encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas. Middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject should earn a major in that area.
Require subject-matter testing for middle school teacher candidates.
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 should also reconsider its waiver for subject-matter testing.
Oregon noted that only three of 1,903 newly licensed applicants were awarded alternative assessment for multiple subjects in 2010-2011. Oregon also asserted that the ORELA multiple-subjects K-8 test is based on the state-adopted K-8 curriculum standards, not the K-6 curriculum standards. Many of Oregon's rural schools are configured as K-8 self-contained classrooms, and K-8 schools performed better on NCLB standards than middle schools.
NCTQ is certainly not advocating against K-8 schools and can see why such configurations are particularly advantageous for rural areas. But middle school-level students in a K-8 school still need teachers who are well prepared to teach middle school-level subject matter, and this may be compromised by the 3-8 license.