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.
Content Test Requirements: Alabama's early childhood education teachers, who are licensed to teach grades PreK-3, are required to pass the Praxis Early Childhood Education Content Knowledge (5025) test. This test provides a composite score for English language arts, math, science and social studies.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: As a condition of initial licensure, Alabama requires all early childhood candidates to pass the Foundations of Reading test which addresses the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Alabama's early childhood preparation standards do not address scientifically based reading instruction.
Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Because provisional and emergency licensure requirements are scored in Provisional and Emergency Licensure, only the test requirements for the state's initial license are considered as part of this goal.
Require all early childhood
candidates who are eligible to teach elementary grades to pass a
subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all
Alabama should require all early childhood education teacher candidates who teach elementary grades to pass a core content test. Although requiring a content test is a step in the right direction, the state should require separate, meaningful passing scores for each core subject covered on the test, including reading/language arts, math, science and social studies. Use of a composite passing score offers no assurance of adequate knowledge in each subject area. A candidate may achieve a passing score and still be seriously deficient in a particular subject area.
Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare early childhood education candidates in the science of reading instruction.
Alabama should require teacher preparation programs in the state to train candidates in scientifically based reading instruction to help ensure that all teachers are well prepared in the science of reading instruction before entering the classroom.
Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. This analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.
2D: Elementary Licensure Requirements
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. 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, states would put students at risk by not holding all elementary teachers to equivalent standards. 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. 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.