The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.
In its standards for preparation of elementary teachers, Arkansas requires teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading. Programs must provide training in "the connection between phonemes and print," as well as decoding unfamiliar words, reading fluently, reading comprehension and motivation.
Arkansas also requires new early and middle childhood teachers to pass a general test in the Praxis II series that covers reading instruction. However, two studies of Praxis reading tests have deemed most tests in this series inadequate for assessing knowledge of scientifically based reading instruction.
Early Childhood Competency Areas http://www.arkansased.org/teachers/competency.html Stotsky, S. (2006). Why American Students Do Not Learn to Read Very Well: The Unintended Consequences of Title II and Teacher Testing. Third Education Group Review 2, No. 2; Rigden, D.W. (2006). Report on Licensure Alignment with the Essential Components of Effective Reading Instruction. Washington, DC: Reading First Teacher Education Network.
Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
While Arkansas is commended for requiring teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading, the state should also require a rigorous reading assessment tool to ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared in the science of reading instruction before entering the classroom. The assessment should clearly test knowledge and skills related to the science of reading, and if it is combined with an assessment that also tests general pedagogy or elementary content, it should report a subscore for the science of reading specifically. Elementary teachers who do not possess the minimum knowledge in this area should not be eligible for licensure.
Arkansas asserted that although they are given various names at different institutions, each preparation program is required to address Teaching Reading I, which is instruction for teaching a child to read for the first time, and Teaching Reading II, which is a diagnostic reading course to help teachers diagnose struggling readers and provide scaffolding.
This analysis acknowledges the state's requirement that teacher preparation programs must address the science of reading. Arkansas is urged to adopt a reading assessment that adequately measures these skills.