Appropriate employment for those holding Elementary or Middle School Generalist licenses

In memos dated 10/28/04 and 11/13/06, former state Education Commissioner David Driscoll clarified Department of Elementary and Secondary Education policies regarding appropriate employment for those holding elementary or middle school generalist licenses. Those memos can be read at: (middle school) (elementary).


Briefly stated, those who hold elementary or middle school generalist licenses:

  • may teach or team teach two or more subject areas;
  • may not have a teaching assignment that covers a single subject area where there is a more appropriate license.

See the Commissioner's memos (elementary and middle school) for a more detailed explanation.


The middle school generalist clarification was issued first and the deadline for complying was September 2006.

The more recently issued elementary clarification directs compliance by the 2008/2009 school year (no waiver is needed prior to 9/08).

Definition of "Subject"

At the time of the middle school clarification MTA had a series of conversations on this matter with the Commissioner.  He assured us that in determining whether one's teaching assignment conforms with DOE policies, "subject" is intended to be broadly defined.  For instance, study skills or enrichment classes that are part of one's teaching assignment are considered subjects.

K-8 Licenses

K-8 licenses were last issued as a new license in 1982. Since that time they have been (and continue to be ) an appropriate license to teach a single subject, more than one subject, or all subjects in K-8 self-contained classrooms (with the exception of "special" subjects such as music, art, reading, PE, SPED).

When holders recertified in 1999 they received either (1) another K-8 license, or (2) if they "swapped," they should have received K-8, 1-6 and 5-9 "generalist" teacher licenses.
 Generalist Self Study Form

 Generalist Self Study Form plus this article