Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that middle school teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge of appropriate grade-level content. This goal has been revised since 2017.
Content Test Requirements: Utah's secondary licenses cover grades 6 to 12, thus, spanning the middle school grades. The state also offers a middle-level science and math endorsement.
Effective January 1, 2020, candidates for Utah's associate educator license (which is the state's initial license) will be required to have a bachelor's degree or be enrolled in, but not complete, an educator preparation program. This initial license is valid for two years and may be renewed. Teachers must complete a teacher preparation program and have a bachelor's degree in order to obtain a professional educator license. Additionally starting January 1, 2020, secondary candidates can demonstrate content knowledge using one of the following:
Test Requirement www.ets.org/praxis Utah Administrative Code R277-301;309 Draft of R277-309 (adopted January 8, 2020) https://usbe.civicclerk.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ad=2125
Require content testing in all core areas.
As a condition of initial licensure, Utah should require subject-matter tests for middle school teacher candidates that are sufficiently rigorous and are specifically aligned to the content that middle school teachers need to teach. The state should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests.
Utah was helpful in providing facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also noted that the rules regarding the new licensing system are effective on 1/1/2020, but the old rules do not sunset until 6/30/2020. This means that the new system starts on 7/1/2020. The overlap is to allow for implementation and transition.
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.