Licensure Deficiencies

Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy

Licensure Deficiencies

The state should ensure that new teachers who are licensed to teach elementary grades under an early childhood license demonstrate sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction. This goal has been revised since 2017.

Best practices

Virginia offers two endorsements that include both early childhood and elementary grades (PK-3 and PK-6). Commendably, the state requires all teacher candidates to pass the Praxis Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects test, which provides a subscore for each core academic area. Additionally, all candidates must pass the Praxis Reading for Virginia Educators Assessment, which adequately addresses the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). Licensure Deficiencies national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Licensure-Deficiencies-90
Best practice 1

State

Meets goal 0

States

Nearly meets goal 2

States

Meets goal in part 9

States

Meets a small part of goal 13

States

Does not meet goal 15

States

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

2020
2017
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, MN, MT, ND, NJ, NV, RI, TN, UT, VT

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

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

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

Footnotes
AK: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
AR: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
CA: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
FL: Florida's test contains three subtests that cover language arts and reading, math and science.
GA: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
IA: Candidates have the option of passing any of these three tests: the Praxis II Early Childhood: Content Knowledge (5025), Praxis Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (5023), or the edTPA performance assessment.
IN: Indiana's subtests combines science with health and social studies with fine arts.
KY: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
ME: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
MI: Only those adding to an elementary license would be required to pass the elementary test.
MN: Test contains 2 subtests, one of which combines English language arts and math.
MS: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
NC: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
NJ: A candidate who fails to earn the passing score by 5 percent or less can still meet the subject matter requirement with a GPA of at least 3.5.
NY: Test contains 3 separately scored subtests.
OH: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
OR: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
PA: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
RI: May pass either multiple subjects (subscores) or content knowledge (no subscores) test.
TN: Tennessee allows teachers to delay passage of content and pedagogy tests if they possess a bachelor's degree in a core content area.
UT: May pass either multiple subjects (subscores) or content knowledge (no subscores) test.

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

2020
2017
Figure details

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

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

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

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

Footnotes
AK: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades, or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
AR: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
CA: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
GA: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
KY: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades, or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
ME: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
MS: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades, or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
NC: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
OH: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades, or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
OR: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
PA: These states do not offer a standalone early childhood certification that includes elementary grades, or the state's early childhood certification is the de facto license to teach elementary grades.
TN: Tennessee allows teachers to delay passage of content and pedagogy tests if they possess a bachelor's degree in a core content area.

Updated: May 2020

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.
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 content tests as elementary teachers that contain four or more separately scored content exams to ensure appropriate content knowledge in all core academic subject areas.
  • 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 test does not contain four separately scored tests. 
  • OR
  • The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires an early childhood test with at least two separately scored content exams to ensure appropriate content knowledge in core academic subjects. Both exams must result in a score for one core content area each.

Scientifically Based Reading Instruction
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 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.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires all new early childhood teachers to pass a stand-alone reading test of scientifically based reading instruction, but the test includes content not aligned to scientifically based reading instruction. 
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if early childhood teacher preparation standards address the five components of scientifically based reading instruction, but the state does not require an adequate - or any - scientifically based reading instruction test.

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