Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
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.
Content Test Requirements: Pennsylvania requires a grades 4-8 license to teach middle school. All new middle school teachers in Pennsylvania are also required to pass a Praxis II single-subject content test to attain licensure.
Academic Requirements: Pennsylvania offers middle school candidates two options for fulfilling academic requirements. The first option is the completion of one concentration (30 credit hours) in either English language arts and reading, math, science or social studies. Candidates must then complete 12 credit hours in each of the remaining three areas. The second option is the completion of a concentration in two content areas. The state recommends a minimum of 21 credits in each content-area concentration, with 12 credits in each of the two remaining content areas.
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org Grade 4-8 Program Guidelines http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/Teachers-Administrators/Certification%20Preparation%20Programs/Specific%20Program%20Guidelines/4_8ProgramGuidelines.pdf
Pennsylvania recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
3A: Middle School Content Knowledge
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.