Middle School Content Knowledge: Louisiana

2017 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.


Analysis of Louisiana's policies

Content Test Requirements: Louisiana requires a middle grades certificate (grades 4-8) for all middle school teachers. All new middle school teachers in Louisiana are required to pass a single-subject Praxis II content test to attain licensure; a general content knowledge test is not an option.  Louisiana also allows teachers to add middle school area endorsements to existing certificates with either 30 credit hours in the area or a passing score on a content test.


Recommendations for Louisiana

Ensure that content tests adequately measure sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Louisiana should ensure that its subject-matter tests for middle school teacher candidates is sufficiently rigorous. The state should ensure that the required passing scores on each test reflect high levels of performance. Doing so will help to ensure that every student is taught by a teacher with adequate subject-matter knowledge.

Close the loophole that allows teachers to add middle-grade levels to an existing license without demonstrating content knowledge.
NCTQ urges the state 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 teach in a classroom as the teacher of record.

State response to our analysis

Louisiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also indicated that In October 2016, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) adopted updated competencies, including literacy competencies, that identify the essential knowledge and skills that aspiring teachers must demonstrate in order to be eligible for initial certification. According to the state, its competencies for initial teacher certification define what a teacher candidate must know and be able to do in order to be eligible for certification upon completion of a BESE-approved teacher preparation program and are aligned with student standards.

In addition, Louisiana noted that the competencies were developed in collaboration with content experts, elementary and secondary educators, and postsecondary education leaders. Preparation providers and their school system partners co-construct preparation experiences that develop these competencies through quality practice experiences, including a yearlong residency.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

3A: Middle School Content Knowledge 

  • Content Tests: The state should require that all new middle school teachers pass a separately scored subject-matter test in every core academic area for which they are licensed to teach.
Content Tests
The total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state can earn full credit if it offers a middle school license and requires teachers to pass a licensing test in every core academic area in which they are licensed to teach. 
  • One-quarter credit: In some cases, a state can earn one-quarter of a credit for mitigating the negative aspects of a K-8 license, for example, requiring a single subject test to teach that subject at the middle school level.
  • 0/0 credit: The state will not earn any credit if it only offers a K-8 license and only requires an elementary content test.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.

[1] For additional research on the importance of subject matter knowledge, see: Dee, T. S., & Cohodes, S. R. (2008). Out-of-field teachers and student achievement: Evidence from matched-pairs comparisons. Public Finance Review, 36(1), 7-32.; Chaney, B. (1995). Student outcomes and the professional preparation of eighth-grade teachers in science and mathematics. NSF/NELS: 88 Teacher Transcript Analysis. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED389530; Weglinsky, H. (2000). How teaching matters: Bringing the classroom back into discussions of teacher quality (Policy Information Center report). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/PICTEAMAT.pdf ; A report published by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) concludes that a teacher's knowledge of math makes a difference in student achievement. National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. US Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf