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Language Arts and Literacy

Ensuring that an appropriately prepared and endorsed teacher is assigned to teach in Michigan’s classrooms is critical to student achievement. The State Board of Education (SBE) has approved standards for preparing teachers in each endorsement area.

The Language Arts (BX) endorsement is a group endorsement, covering English language and literature study, journalism, speech, reading and some communication arts concepts appropriate to grades K-8. The English (BA) endorsed teacher does not have the same breadth of preparation.

English Language Arts

The term “English Language Arts (ELA)” in the Michigan K-12 Standards for English Language Arts and Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) causes some confusion as to which endorsement a teacher should hold for a given assignment, especially when a school has opted to name all its English or Language Arts courses as ELA. When determining the appropriate endorsement needed for a course, reviewing the title alone is not sufficient. Administrators and teachers should also apply and align all the considerations outlined in the Proper Placement Considerations guide before assigning teachers or developing courses.


Most 9-12 ELA courses are truly English courses, with a focus on English language and literature study (e.g. English 11, Literature; see the Quick Reference: Courses That Can Be Taught for additional BA course titles). For that reason, the State Board of Education eliminated the secondary level Language Arts endorsement in 2000.

  • English (BA) is the proper credential for courses meeting the 9-12 MMC ELA requirements. A 6-12 Language Arts (BX) issued before 2000 when the BX could be either elementary or secondary is also acceptable.

Language Arts

  • The English (BA) 6-12 endorsed teacher may teach a true Language Arts course at the 6-8 grade level only.
  • If a Language Arts class has instruction in learning to read or in remediating deficits in literacy skills as a major component, then it should be taught by a Reading Specialist (BR), Reading (BT) or Language Arts (BX) endorsed teacher. It should be considered a reading course. Even if a class is called Language Arts, if its primary focus is literature and language study, then an English (BA) endorsed teacher may be appropriately placed.
  • A language arts course containing both speech and reading as components should be assigned to a teacher holding the Language Arts (BX) endorsement.


A true corrective reading and/or comprehension course must be taught by a Reading Specialist (BR), Reading (BT), or Language Arts (BX) endorsed teacher. This includes courses where the teacher uses a boxed, scripted program (e.g., Read180, Corrective Reading) for which the teacher assesses and places students in the program based upon their assessment scores, and then gives the students workbooks and other materials from the program to teach prescribed decoding and comprehension skills. While it is packaged and scripted, teachers provide more than facilitation by evaluating and grouping students based upon that evaluation. Therefore, the teacher should hold the appropriate endorsement. An English (BA) endorsement is not the appropriate endorsement for this type of course.

  • The Reading Specialist (BR) or Reading (BT) endorsed teacher have optimum preparation for an isolated reading course.
  • The Language Arts (BX) K-8 or 6-8 endorsed teacher may teach reading in isolation.
  • The English (BA) 6-12 or 6-8 endorsed teacher is not prepared to teach reading in isolation, at any grade level between 6-12.
  • A language arts course containing both speech and reading as components should be assigned to a teacher holding the Language Arts (BX) endorsement.

Content Area Reading

Districts, in an effort to build and reinforce the reading skills of their students and to increase student achievement, have also begun developing courses to teach reading skills in the content areas. These courses utilize teachers certified in the content areas and but not certified in reading. It is necessary to evaluate these courses and refer to the Proper Placement Considerations document to ensure the class is taught by an appropriately prepared teacher.

Typically the biggest area of concern is when the course is called “Reading”. A course called “Reading” would indicate that reading is being taught in isolation. However, if the course truly involves content, the title of the course should reflect the content. For example, “Scientific Reading”, “Reading in Literature” or “Extended Readings in Social Studies” would be appropriate titles for these elective courses taught by a science, English or social studies teacher, respectively. The course description should emphasize the study of the core course content alongside the reading strategies and interventions.

  • Clearly naming the course provides stronger alignment with the endorsement held by the teacher. The course could then be taught by the core subject teacher and would not require a Reading (BT) or Reading Specialist (BR) endorsed teacher. This class could be reported with the core subject area assignment code (e.g., 000DX, 000BA, 000RX, etc.) within the Registry of Educational Personnel (REP), even though they should be considered an elective, and would not need to be reported as a Reading (000BT) or Language Arts (000BX) course. 
  •  Michigan’s Teacher Certification Code contains two distinct requirements in the teaching of reading that all teachers must complete, including one based upon Michigan Compiled Law 380.1531(4). Therefore, all teachers, who have completed these reading requirements, should have the preparation necessary to teach reading within their endorsed content areas. They would not, however, have the preparation necessary to provide reading instruction in isolation. For more information on these reading requirements please review the Reading Coursework Requirements for Michigan Teacher Certification.


A speech course is designed to help students gain self-confidence in public speaking and master the skills necessary to prepare and present interesting and well organized speeches to an audience. The course will aid in conversation, small group interaction, identification of speaking purposes, supporting ideas, and listening skills. Some of the projects students can expect to produce are informational speeches, persuasive speeches, sales presentations, marketing campaigns, impromptu activities and more. This course should be taught by a Speech (BD), Language Arts (BX), or Communication Arts (AX) endorsed teacher. The English (BA) endorsed teacher does not have sufficient depth of preparation to teach it.

Please note that the Communication Arts (AX) endorsement was discontinued in 2017. This endorsement will not be removed from teaching certificates. School districts are free to assign any teacher to courses specific to this endorsement who provides evidence of professional development and holds a certificate for the grade level at which these courses are offered.

  • The English (BA) endorsed teacher is not prepared to teach speech courses.
  • The Language Arts (BX) endorsed teacher may teach speech as the BX preparation program does cover this sub-area.
  • A language arts course containing both speech and reading as components should be assigned to a teacher holding the Language Arts (BX) endorsement.