Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction : California

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction : California results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/CA-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction--6

Analysis of California's policies

California requires that teacher preparation programs for elementary teacher candidates address the science of reading. Prior to initial licensure, candidates must satisfy the "Developing English Language Skills" requirement, which includes a comprehensive reading instruction course that focuses on "the systematic study of phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding; literature, language and comprehension; and diagnostic and early intervention techniques."

California also requires all new elementary and special education teachers to pass a reading instruction test, the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA).


Recommendations for California

Ensure that the state's reading assessment adequately measures skills related to the science of reading instruction.
California is commended for requiring teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading, but some reading scholars question the ability of the RICA test to screen out candidates who do not know the science of reading. California should ensure that its assessment tool is rigorous enough to adequately test elementary teacher candidates' knowledge of the science of reading.

State response to our analysis

California 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:

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: 

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).