Middle School Teacher Preparation :

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Middle School Teacher Preparation : Pennsylvania results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/PA-Middle-School-Teacher-Preparation--6

Analysis of Pennsylvania's policies

Pennsylvania will now require an elementary/middle-level (4-8) certification for its middle school teachers. Candidates may choose between two design options. 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 also 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. 

All new middle school teachers in Pennsylvania are currently required to pass a single-subject Praxis II content test to attain licensure; a general content knowledge test is not an option. Beginning April 2, 2012, the state will begin to require modular format tests for its new programs. 


Recommendations for Pennsylvania

State response to our analysis

Pennsylvania was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.

Research rationale

A report published by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) concludes that a teacher's knowledge of math makes a difference in student achievement. U.S. Department of Education. Foundation for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education (2008).

For additional research on the importance of subject matter knowledge, see Dee and Chodes, "Out-of-Field Teaching and Student Achievement; Evidence from Matched-Pairs Comparisons." Public Finance Review (2008); as B. Chaney, "Student outcomes and the professional preparation of 8th grade teachers," in NSF/NELS 88: Teacher transcript analysis (Rockville, MD: Westat, 1995); H. Wenglinsky, How Teaching Matters: Bringing the Classroom Back Into Discussions of Teacher Quality (Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, 2000). For information on the "ceiling effect," see D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "When should we reward degrees for teachers?" in Phi Delta Kappan 80, No. 2 (1998): 134-138.