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: Wisconsin offers a "middle childhood through early adolescence" license, which is the equivalent of a generalist grades 1-8 license. All new middle school teachers in Wisconsin are only required to pass the Praxis II Middle School: Content Knowledge (5146) test; passing scores in each subject area are not required. Therefore, there is no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
Academic Requirements: Candidates for the "middle childhood through early adolescence" license are required to complete a minor in a core subject.
Middle School Licensure Deficiencies: 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.
Require content testing in all core areas.
Wisconsin 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. The state should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance to ensure meaningful middle school content tests.
Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. In addition, the state noted that content area licenses (e.g., English, Math) at the Early Adolescence-Adolescence level (grades 5-12) require an academic major and passing the content appropriate Praxis II or ACTFL exam.
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.