NEWTON, MA | April 9, 2002
All states should establish mandatory requirements for licensing teachers who plan to teach at the middle level, and college graduate programs should establish programs that specifically prepare teachers to teach young adolescents. Those are just two of the recommendations put forth in a new policy statement issued by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.
To ensure that middle-grades teachers across the country are effective in reaching and teaching their students, the Forum believes it is critical that teachers have a deep understanding of both the subjects they teach, and how to help students learn the concepts of demanding curricula. Middle-grades teachers must have a good understanding of the unique challenges of early adolescence and the ability to work with this age group.
“Lack of specialized teacher preparation for middle-grades teachers amounts to malpractice,” said Ken McEwin of Appalachian State University, a member of the National Forum’s policy committee, which helped draft the statement. “If we believe that young children need teachers with special training in early childhood education, why would we not think young adolescents need and deserve teachers trained to teach this special age group?” McEwin said.
The Forum notes that special credentials are required for teaching elementary and high school, but there is no such requirement in many states for the special training and licensing of teachers working at the middle level.
In its policy statement, the National Forum advocates that:
- every state require middle-level teachers to have middle-level credentials
- middle-level licensure should be specific to the middle grades and not overlap significantly with licensure for elementary or high school teaching
- colleges and universities design teacher preparation and professional development programs that specifically prepare future and current teachers to work with this age group
The policy statement concludes, “Implementing these recommendations will serve as an incentive for both institutions and individuals to pursue middle-level specialization and for districts and schools to hire teachers who are well prepared to teach this age level.”
The National Forum is a group dedicated to improving education in the middle grades. Forum members include educators, researchers, representatives of national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations. The policy on teacher preparation is the second in a series of statements published by the Forum.