Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
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: Washington offers a middle grades certification to teach grades 4-9. Candidates for the middle-level endorsement are required to take subject-specific assessments, which include middle-level humanities, mathematics and science.
In addition, the humanities test for middle school certification combines both English language arts and reading with social studies, without requiring individual cut-scores. Although the state's code no longer provides a link to the endorsement-related assignment table, it is unclear whether Washington has strengthened its policy by no longer allowing secondary teachers to teach single subjects in middle school, such as general math, pre-algebra and algebra, without additional requisite knowledge requirements.
Academic Requirements: Washington does not explicitly require a major or minor in the subject areas that prospective middle school teachers plan to teach.
Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, Washington offers a generalist K-8 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.
Test Requirement http://www.west.nesinc.com/ WAC 181-79A-150; 181-82-105; 201 Endorsement-related Assignment Table http://www.pesb.wa.gov/districts/assignment_rule_app
Require content testing in all core areas.
Washington should require single-subject tests for all middle school teacher candidates in every core academic area they intend to teach as a condition of initial licensure. The state should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests. Washington should also address any deficiencies that undermine this policy (see Goal 3-B: Middle School Licensure Deficiencies analysis and recommendations).
Middle school teachers licensed to teach multiple subjects should earn two subject-matter minors.
Washington should encourage middle school teachers licensed to teach multiple subjects 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.
Washington stated that it requires all teacher candidates who plan to teach in middle schools to pass WEST-E tests in their subject areas in order to be certified in the same area.
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.