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Over forty U.S. states offer teacher licensing specifically in preparation for teaching middle grades students. California is not included in this number, nor do California teacher licenses (i.e., multiple subjects, single subject, and special education) require teacher preparation coursework specific to meeting the needs of early adolescents. This descriptive study presents results of an exploratory survey of California educators with middle grades experience (n=48) regarding their ability to identify essential attributes and characteristics of successful middle schools in California, their perceptions of young adolescents’ needs and responsive teaching practices, and their current opinions of middle level education in California. Findings indicate that survey respondents (1) moderately agree that middle schools in California represent the essential attributes and key characteristics of successful middle schools, (2) agree that middle level teachers’ practice is responsive to early adolescents’ developmental needs but does not emphasize student choice and community interaction, and (3) overwhelmingly agree that the overall state of middle level education in California is inadequate. These findings have implications for policymakers and teacher educators to think flexibly about middle level education and whether the needs of early adolescents are best served by the current conditions of teacher preparation in California.


This article was originally published in CCTE (California Council on Teacher Education) Fall 2021 Research Monographs in November 2021.


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