Licensure Deficiencies

2017 Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy

2017 Goals for Licensure Deficiencies

The state should ensure that new teachers who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license possess sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Best practices

Unfortunately, NCTQ cannot award "best practice" honors to any state for its policy in the area of early childhood licenses that span elementary grades. However, three states—Florida, New York, and Virginia—are worthy of mention for taking steps in the right direction by holding early childhood candidates to the same standards as their elementary teacher candidates. Each of these states require early childhood candidates to pass a content test with separately scored subtests, as well as to pass a test of scientifically based reading instruction.

Florida ensures that early childhood education teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students. The state's test frameworks and competencies go further than other states and specify that early childhood education candidates must have the ability to not only build content knowledge and vocabulary through careful reading of informational and literary texts but also to challenge students with texts of increasing complexity. Candidates must also know how to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject and are prepared to intervene and support students who are struggling.

Best practice 0

States

Meets goal 1

State

Nearly meets goal 2

States

Meets goal in part 4

States

Meets a small part of goal 11

States

Does not meet goal 22

States

Progress on this goal since 2015

  • Improved
  • Stayed the same
  • Regressed

Do states adequately assess core content knowledge for early childhood candidates who can teach elementary grades?

2017
2015
Add previous year
Figure details

Yes. State requires a strong subject-matter test with separate passing scores.: FL, IN, LA, NY, VA

Partially. State requires an insufficiently rigorous subject-matter test that combines all subject areas into one score. : AL, DC, ID, MD, MT, ND, NJ, NV, RI, TN, WI

No. State requires a weak subject-matter test assessing almost no content knowledge.: AZ, CT, DE, IL, KS, MA, ME, MN, MO, NE, NH, NM, OK, SC, SD, WA

No. State does not require a subject-matter test.: CO, HI, IA, MI, VT, WY

Not applicable. State has no early childhood license that includes the elementary grades: AK, AR, CA, GA, KY, MS, NC, OH, OR, PA, TX, UT, WV

Do states adequately assess reading instruction knowledge for early childhood candidates who can teach elementary grades?

2017
2015
Add previous year
Figure details

Yes. State requires a strong test measuring candidates' knowledge of the science of reading instruction.: AL, CT, FL, IN, MA, MN, NH, NY, OK, TN, VA, WI

Partially. State requires an insufficiently rigorous test to fully measure candidates' knowledge of the science of reading instruction.: ID, LA

No. State does not require a science of reading instruction test.: AZ, CO, DC, DE, HI, IA, IL, KS, MD, ME, MI, MO, MT, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, RI, SC, SD, VT, WA, WY

Not applicable. State has no early childhood license that spans elementary grades.: AK, AR, CA, GA, KY, MS, NC, OH, OR, PA, TX, UT, WV

Do states adequately assess mathematics knowledge for early childhood candidates who can teach elementary grades?

2017
2015
Add previous year
Figure details

Yes. State requires a strong mathematics test with separate passing scores.: FL, IN, LA, NY, VA

Partially. State requires an insufficiently rigorous mathematics test that combines all subject areas into one score. : AL, DC, ID, MD, MT, ND, NJ, NM, NV, RI, TN, WI

No. State does not require a mathematics test.: AZ, CO, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, KS, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NE, NH, OK, SC, SD, VT, WA, WY

Not applicable. State has no early childhood license that includes elementary grades.: AK, AR, CA, GA, KY, MS, NC, OH, OR, PA, TX, UT, WV

How we graded

2D: Elementary Licensure Deficiencies

  • Adequate Content Knowledge: The state should ensure that all new elementary teacher candidates teaching under an early childhood license possess sufficient elementary content knowledge in all core subjects, including mathematics.
  • Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: The state should ensure that all new elementary teacher candidates teaching under an early childhood license are required to pass a rigorous test of scientifically based reading instruction. The design of the test should ensure that prospective teachers cannot pass without knowing the five scientifically based components of early reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • College- and Career-Readiness Standards: The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers teaching under an early childhood license are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction in all subject areas. Specifically,
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to incorporate informational texts of increasing complexity into instruction.
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to identify and support struggling readers.
Adequate Content Knowledge
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it requires early childhood teachers to pass the same individually scored content tests as elementary teachers.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires early childhood teachers to pass the same content tests as elementary teachers, but the content tests are not individually scored.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires all new early childhood teachers to pass a rigorous test of scientifically based reading instruction. The design of the test must ensure that all prospective teachers are competent in the five research-based components of early reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
College- and Career-Readiness Standards
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if its elementary teacher preparation tests or standards address the three components of college- and career-readiness standards. To earn credit, states must have at least one component "fully addressed" and two "partially addressed."

Research rationale

Early childhood teachers who teach elementary grades must be ready for the demands of the elementary classroom. Many states have early childhood licenses that include some elementary classroom grades, usually up to grade three.[1] Because teachers with this early childhood license can still teach many elementary grades, they should not be held to a lower bar for subject-matter knowledge than if they held more standard elementary licenses. Given the focus on building students' content knowledge and vocabulary in college- and career-readiness standards,[2] states would put students at risk by not holding all elementary teachers to equivalent standards.[3] That is not to say the license requirements must be identical; there are certainly different focuses in terms of child development and pedagogy. But the idea that content knowledge is only needed by upper-grade elementary teachers is clearly false.

Focus on reading instruction is especially critical for early childhood teachers. Although some states do not ensure that any elementary teachers know the science of how to teach young children to read, in the states where this is a priority, it is inexcusable to hold elementary teachers on an early childhood license to a lower standard. Research is clear that the best defense against reading failure is effective early reading instruction.[4] Therefore, if such licenses are neglecting to meet the needs of the early elementary classroom, of which learning to read is paramount, they are failing to meet one of their most fundamental purposes.


[1] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2016, June). Some assembly required: Piecing together the preparation preschool teachers need. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Preschool
[2] Student Achievement Partners. (2015). Research supporting the Common Core ELA/literacy shifts and standards. Retrieved from https://achievethecore.org/content/upload/Research%20Supporting%20the%20ELA%20Standards%20and%20Shifts%20Final.pdf
[3] Numerous research studies have established the strong relationship between teachers' vocabulary (a proxy for being broadly educated) and student achievement. For example: Wayne, A. J., & Youngs, P. (2003). Teacher characteristics and student achievement gains: A review. Review of Educational Research, 73(1), 89-122.; See also: Whitehurst, G. J. (2002, March). Scientifically based research on teacher quality: Research on teacher preparation and professional development. In White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teacher.; Ehrenberg, R. G., & Brewer, D. J. (1995). Did teachers' verbal ability and race matter in the 1960s? Coleman revisited. Economics of Education Review, 14(1), 1-21.; Research also connects individual content knowledge with increased reading comprehension, making the capacity of the teacher to infuse all instruction with content of particular importance for student achievement.; Willingham, D. T. (2006). How knowledge helps: It speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning, and thinking. American Educator, 30(1), 30. Retrieved from https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2006/how-knowledge-helps
[4] Torgesen, J.K. (November 2005). Preventing reading disabilities in young children: Requirements at the classroom and school level. Presented at the Western North Carolina LD/ADD Symposium.; Walsh, K., Glaser, D., & Wilcox, D. D. (2006). What education schools aren't teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren't learning. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf