2015 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers 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 and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas.
Wyoming requires a middle-level (grades 5-8) endorsement for middle school teachers. Candidates are not required to earn a major or minor in a subject area. Middle school teachers in Wyoming who have not acquired certification through a traditional route must pass a single-subject Praxis II content test to attain licensure. In these cases, a general content-knowledge test is not an option.
Commendably, Wyoming does not offer a K-8 generalist license.
Wyoming's preparation and licensure requirements for middle school teachers are not aligned with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students.
The state only requires middle school social studies teachers to pass a content test, which does not address incorporating literacy skills. Teacher standards also do not address these skills associated with its standards for students.
Wyoming has no requirements for the preparation of middle school teachers who address struggling readers.
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org PTSB Rules and Regulations, Chapters 3 and 4
Require content testing in all core areas.
Wyoming 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.
Ensure that middle school teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students.
Incorporate informational text of increasing complexity into classroom instruction.
Either through testing frameworks or teacher standards, Wyoming should specifically address the instructional shifts toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through increasingly complex informational texts and careful reading of informational and literary texts associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students.
Incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
To ensure that middle school students are capable of accessing varied information about the world around them, Wyoming should include literacy skills and using text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts.
Support struggling readers.
Wyoming should articulate requirements ensuring that middle school teachers are prepared to intervene and support students who are struggling.
Close the loophole that allows teachers to add elementary grade levels to an existing license without demonstrating content knowledge.
Wyoming is urged to require that all teachers who add the middle grade levels to their certificates pass a rigorous subject-matter test to ensure content knowledge of all subject areas before they are allowed in the classroom.
Wyoming disputed the accuracy of NCTQ’s analysis that only new middle school teachers in Wyoming who have not acquired certification through a traditional route must pass a single-subject Praxis II content test to attain licensure. In these cases, a general content-knowledge test is not an option. Wyoming also stated that completion of a state-approved program surpasses the knowledge demonstrated through passing an exam.
The state also disagreed with the contention in the recommendation that elementary grade levels can be added to an existing license without demonstrating content knowledge. Wyoming asserted that elementary teachers may not add middle-grade endorsements without first completing a state-approved program, which satisfactorily demonstrates content knowledge.
Wyoming added that passing subject-area tests is not the only way for applicants to demonstrate content knowledge.
differentiate middle school teacher preparation from that of elementary
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 are among the weakest state policies. Too many states fail 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 do. 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.
College- and career-readiness standards require significant shifts in literacy instruction.
College- and career-readiness standards for K-12 students adopted by nearly all states require from teachers a different focus on literacy integrated into all subject areas. The standards demand that teachers are prepared to bring complex text and academic language into regular use, emphasize the use of evidence from informational and literary texts and build knowledge and vocabulary through content-rich text. While most states have not ignored teachers' need for training and professional development related to these instructional shifts, few states have attended to the parallel need to align teacher competencies and requirements for teacher preparation so that new teachers will enter the classroom ready to help students meet the expectations of these standards. Because middle school teachers in most states can be licensed either to be multi-subject teachers or generalists, middle school teachers need specialized preparation. Particularly for single subject teachers of areas other than English language arts, these instructional shifts may be especially acute.
Middle School Teacher Preparation: Supporting Research
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. Foundations 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 T. Dee and S. Cohodes, "Out-of-Field Teachers and Student Achievement: Evidence from Matched-Pairs Comparisons." Public Finance Review, Volume 36, No. 1, January 2008, pp. 7-32; B. Chaney, "Student outcomes and the professional preparation of eighth-grade teachers in science and mathematics," in NSF/NELS:88 Teacher transcript analysis, 1995, ERIC, ED389530, 112 p.; 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, Volume 80, No. 2, October 1998, pp. 134, 136-138.
For an extensive summary of the research base supporting the instructional shifts associated with college- and career-readiness standards, see "Research Supporting the Common Core ELA Literacy Shifts and Standards" available from Student Achievement Partners.