Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction : Arizona

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction : Arizona results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AZ-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction--6

Analysis of Arizona's policies

Arizona does not require that teacher preparation programs for elementary teacher candidates address the science of reading.

The state also does not require teacher candidates to pass an assessment that measures knowledge of scientifically based reading instruction prior to certification or at any point thereafter.

However, Arizona does require elementary teachers to complete 45 clock hours or three credit hours of instruction in "research-based systematic phonics" during their first two years of teaching in order to receive their standard elementary certificate. The state also requires that schools must adopt a scientifically based reading curriculum as part of its professional development for current teachers.

Citation

Recommendations for Arizona

Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction.
While Arizona does require elementary teachers to complete some professional development in scientifically based reading instruction, the state's policy would be stronger if its standards for teacher preparation programs included required training in the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. 

Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
Arizona should 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.

State response to our analysis

Arizona recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

For evidence on what new teachers are not learning about reading instruction, see NCTQ, "What Education Schools Aren't Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning" (2006) at:
http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf

For problems with existing reading tests, see S. Stotsky, "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 (2006); and D. W. Rigden, Report on Licensure Alignment with the Essential Components of Effective Reading Instruction (Washington, D.C.: Reading First Teacher Education Network, 2006) at: 
http://www.tegr.org/Review/Articles/vol2/v2n2.pdf.

For information on where states set passing scores on elementary level content tests for teacher licensing across the U.S., see chart on p. 13 of NCTQ "Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Removing the Roadblocks: How Federal Policy Can Cultivate Effective Teachers," (2011).