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: South Dakota offers single subject 5-8 endorsements which can be obtained after completing either an elementary or secondary preparation program. Candidates for these endorsements may choose can earn a content area major or pass any one of the following tests: Praxis II single subject tests at the middle or secondary level, or the Praxis II Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018), Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects (5001), or the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge for Teaching (7801). Candidates opting for one of the elementary tests take only the subtest corresponding to their single subject endorsement.
None of the options above ensures candidates have sufficient subject matter knowledge at the middle school level.
Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, South Dakota also offers a K-8 generalist license. Because middle school licensure deficiencies are scored in 3-B: Middle School Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Middle School Content Knowledge goal.
Academic Requirements: South Dakota articulates that candidates must "know the subject matter they plan to teach," but it does not explicitly require a major or minor in the subject areas.
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org South Dakota Administrative Rules 24:53:07:04 and 24:28:06:02; :08; :09, :10
Require content testing in all core areas.
South Dakota 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.
Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
South Dakota should encourage middle school teachers to earn two subject-matter minors. This would allow candidates to gain sufficient knowledge to pass state licensing tests, and it would increase schools' staffing flexibility. However, middle school candidates in South Dakota who intend to teach a single subject should earn a major in that area.
South Dakota declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.
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.