Middle School Teacher Preparation : Virginia

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

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

Analysis of Virginia's policies

Virginia requires a middle education (grades 6-8) endorsement for middle school teachers. Candidates must earn a major in interdisciplinary studies or its equivalent.

All new middle school teachers in Virginia are also required to pass a single-subject Praxis II content test to attain licensure; a general content knowledge test is not an option.

Citation

Recommendations for Virginia

Differentiate between single and multiple subject middle school teachers.
Virginia 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. Virginia should retain its requirement for a subject-area major for middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject.

State response to our analysis

Virginia asserted that candidates are encouraged to obtain two areas of concentration, and most individuals do obtain two areas on their license. The option for one area is available, and it is used primarily for individuals coming to Virginia from other states who have only one area on a license.

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.