Middle School Teacher Preparation : West

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Middle School Teacher Preparation : West Virginia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WV-Middle-School-Teacher-Preparation--6

Analysis of West Virginia's policies

West Virginia requires a middle-level endorsement for middle school teachers. Candidates completing two middle-level programs must complete the minimum of a subject-area minor (15 semester hours) in each subject, which would result in candidates earning two minors. A middle-level endorsement may also be added to another general education specialization such as K-6, an additional 5-9 or 5-adult program. Elementary teacher candidates are not required to earn the equivalent of a major or minor; therefore, this route potentially results in just one minor for the middle-level candidate.

All new middle school teachers in West 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.


Recommendations for West Virginia

Strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation.
Although West Virginia is commended for not allowing middle school teachers to teach on a K-8 generalist license, it should strengthen middle school teachers' subject-matter preparation. West Virginia should encourage middle school teachers who plan to teach multiple subjects to earn two minors in two core academic areas, regardless of the route they take to middle-level licensure. Middle school candidates who intend to teach a single subject should earn a major in that area. In addition, the state is urged to rethink its five-adult general education specialization, as content and pedagogy preparation for grade 5 teachers would most certainly be different from those teaching the adult population.

State response to our analysis

West Virginia asserted that a middle childhood program must be taken in combination with another general education specialization leading to an endorsement on a professional teaching certificate. A teacher with a middle school endorsement would have to complete an approved program to be issued a minimum of two different endorsements.  

Last word

NCTQ's analysis acknowledges that West Virginia's middle-level endorsement must be added to another general education specialization. However, if a teacher candidate chooses to add the middle-level endorsement to an elementary education endorsement, then he or she would only be required to earn one minor. 

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.