The State Board of Education is concerned middle school teachers in Tennessee are being stretched too thin and student performance, particularly in math and science, is suffering because of it. So the board is considering changing the way middle school teachers are trained and licensed.
According to a study by an MTSU math professor, when 400 middle school teachers from across the state were tested on the recently adopted tougher math standards, nearly 70 percent failed.
Some believe that has a lot to do with the way middle school teachers are educated and licensed. Right now they’re trained to teach math, English, social studies and science. David Sevier, the Deputy Executive Director of the State Board of Education believes that’s asking too much.
“Mastering one level of content is enough. Mastering four is nearly impossible.”
This fall the board will consider revamping the process, so middle school teachers are licensed to teach specific subjects.
The board tried making this switch a few years ago but principals and superintendents didn’t like the idea, saying it takes away the flexibility of having teachers who can do it all. The board believes Race to the Top and new, tougher testing standards will result in more support for the change this time around.