The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Unfortunately, South Dakota offers a K-8 license and a 5-8 endorsement in self-contained classrooms.
Candidates from either a K-8 elementary program or a secondary program can obtain this endorsement. The state requires candidates adding the 5-8 in a self-contained classroom endorsement to pass one of the following tests: Praxis Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects (5001), the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge for Teaching (7801), or the Praxis Middle School Content Knowledge (5146) test.
South Dakota also offers single-subject middle school endorsements to teach single subjects in grades 5-8, which can be obtained through either a K-8 elementary or secondary preparation program. Candidates adding this endorsement can either pass a content test or demonstrate content knowledge through possession of a content area major.
South Dakota Administrative Rules 24:53:07:04 and 24:28:06:08; 09; and 24:28:20:11 and 24:28:21:06; 12 Endorsements Self-contained: https://apps.sd.gov/DE69EducatorLicensure/Teacher411/endorsement-requirements/126 Single subject: https://apps.sd.gov/DE69EducatorLicensure/Teacher411/endorsements
Ensure that all middle school teachers are prepared to teach grade-level content.
South Dakota should not allow elementary teachers to teach middle level content. 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 are not required to pass a subject-matter test in each subject they teach.
South Dakota did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
3B: Middle School Licensure Requirements
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.