Middle School Teacher Preparation : Texas

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Middle School Teacher Preparation : Texas results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/TX-Middle-School-Teacher-Preparation--6

Analysis of Texas's policies

Texas requires either a generalist (grades 4-8) or a subject-specific (grades 4-8) endorsement for all middle school teachers. Candidates must earn either an academic discipline major or an interdisciplinary academic major.

All new middle school teachers must also pass a subject-matter test, the Texas Examination of Educator Standards. Although the state offers single-subject tests for grades 4-8, it also seems to allow candidates to pass a generalist exam as well as combination tests (e.g., English language arts and reading/social studies 4-8). Because Texas does not report subscores, there is no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.

Citation

Recommendations for Texas

Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
The state is commended for not allowing middle school teachers to teach on a K-8 generalist license. However, it should encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas, rather than a single major. Texas should retain its requirement for a subject-area major for middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject. 

Require subject-matter testing for middle school teacher candidates.
Texas 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.

State response to our analysis

Texas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is considering the elimination of the generalist 4-8 examinations. This requirement was part of the released RFP (Request for Proposal) for the testing contract.

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.