Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should distinguish between the preparation of middle school and elementary teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin allows middle school teachers to teach on a "middle childhood through early adolescence level" license. According to the state's definition, this level applies to children ages 6 through 12 or 13, making it the equivalent of a generalist 1-8 license. Those teaching on this generalist license need only pass the Praxis II Middle School: Content Knowledge (5146) test, which combines core content under one composite score. Therefore, there is no assurance that these middle school teachers will have sufficient knowledge in each subject they teach.
Wisconsin offers, but does not require, an "early adolescence through adolescence" license, covering ages 10 through 21, making it the equivalent of a grades 5-12 license.
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org Wisconsin Administrative Code PI 34.28, PI 34.29
Eliminate the generalist license.
Wisconsin should not allow middle school teachers to teach on a generalist license that does not differentiate between the preparation of middle school teachers and that of elementary teachers. These teachers are less likely to be adequately prepared to teach core academic areas at the middle school level because their preparation requirements are not specific to the middle or secondary levels, and they need not pass a subject-matter test in each subject they teach. Adopting middle school teacher preparation policies for all such teachers will help ensure that students in grades 7 and 8 have teachers who are appropriately prepared to teach grade-level content.
Wisconsin reiterated that it has two different licenses that cover middle school grades. The Regular Education at the Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence level (grades 1-8) requires an academic area minor. 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 exams.
3B: Middle School Licensure Deficiencies
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.