Report: States Lack Consistent Standards for Literacy Teacher Preparation
Only 18 states require elementary teacher candidates to complete specific
courses in literacy education, according to a report from the International Literacy Association.
The report, "Preliminary
Report on Teacher Preparation for Literacy Instruction," is the first of a
two-part report by the association's Teacher Preparation Task Force, which is
examining the education and practical training of teachers in the United States
and the requirements set out by the state departments of education.
Although the results are preliminary and the task force is conducting
further investigation, the report reveals a lack of coursework and practical
requirements for preservice teachers in many states.
"Surprisingly, our analysis showed only 18 states require specific courses
in literacy for elementary teacher candidates, and half the states did not
require specific coursework in any of the licensure areas," said Angela
Rutherford, associate professor at the University of Mississippi and a member of
the task force, in a prepared statement. "Further, there do not appear to be
any requirements for literacy experiences during student teaching or other
To inform this preliminary report, the task force first reviewed the
requirements for teacher preparation in literacy as published on 50 state
department of education Web sites between July and October 2014. They then
conducted interviews with department of education leaders from 23 states to
verify and gain further insight into the data collected from the sites.
The 13-member task force is co-chaired by Deanna Birdyshaw, a lecturer at
the University of Michigan, and Elizabeth
Swaggerty, associate professor of reading education at East Carolina University, and includes literacy
experts from across the country.
Based on the their findings, the task force outlined four main
- There is a need to conduct and share more systematic and comprehensive
research into literacy teacher preparation programs;
- State standards and assessments of literacy teacher preparation should be
research-based and of sufficient quality to inform teacher education
curricula and certification guidelines;
- State guidelines for teacher preparation should provide explicit
requirements for literacy teacher preparation; and
- All preservice teachers should be required to take part in literacy
education activities during their practica.
"Our primary takeaway is that all stakeholders need to be involved in the
conversation about how to improve preparation of preservice teachers to design
and implement instruction that increases the literacy learning of children in
kindergarten through grade 12," said Swaggerty in a prepared statement. "We
hope this initial report is a starting point for that conversation."
The task force identified three main limitations of the preliminary
- Part two of the report is ongoing;
- Representatives from 15 of the 23 states departments of education who were
interviewed said changes to their teacher certification requirements were
being planned; and
- The representatives interviewed were not experts in literacy education.
As the task force prepares part two of the report, they plan to interview
officials, administrators and professors from teacher education programs in all
50 states to find out how they are integrating the guidelines of the
The full preliminary report is available as a free PDF download from the International
Literacy Association's site.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].