Education Reform

Most States Pay Too Little Attention to Educator Readiness to Teach Reading

A new brief from the National Council on Teacher Quality found that a large majority of states haven't taken steps to make sure their teachers have sufficient knowledge to teach reading. According to the organization, just 11 states require licensing tests for both elementary and special education teachers to measure their knowledge of reading instruction. The other 40 states either don't have sufficient licensing tests in place for both groups of teachers or have no test at all.

As the four-page "databurst" report noted, "The lack of these safeguards is especially notable for special education teacher candidates ... given that reading disabilities are the primary reason that students are referred for special education services." According to NCTQ research, five states have adequate tests in place for the elementary teacher candidates, but not the special ed candidates.

"The failure of such a high percentage of our children to learn how to read is tragically unnecessary," said NCTQ President Kate Walsh, in a statement. "We've known for decades what needs to change. Educational trends and priorities ebb and flow. Our responsibility to children should not."

Many of the states do maintain standards for their teacher preparation programs that require coverage of the science of reading. However, the organization asserted, "standards alone have proven insufficient to ensure that these teachers are prepared to teach the science of reading, generally because they are hard to enforce." Walsh's recommendation: "Strong tests backed up by annual reviews of how successful programs are preparing their candidates to pass this test."

NCTQ also suggested two other measures for states to take:

  • If their assessment for educators tests knowledge of other subjects alongside reading, to report a separate score specifically on a candidate's reading knowledge; and
  • To increase the transparency of their oversight of teacher preparation programs by making information about program success publicly available.

The document, which includes state-by-state reading science requirement summaries, is openly available on the NCTQ website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.