The state should ensure that new teachers who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license possess sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Content Test Requirements: Colorado's early childhood education teachers, who are licensed to teach elementary students through age eight are not required to pass a licensing test. Candidates can demonstrate subject-matter competence through one of the following methods:
early childhood teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to
ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
Colorado should require all early childhood education teacher candidates, who are licensed to teach elementary grades, to pass an elementary content test appropriately aligned with its college- and career-readiness standards. Colorado should require a subject-matter test that includes separate, meaningful passing scores for each core subject, including reading/language arts, math, science and social studies.
Require all teacher candidates who teach elementary grades to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
Colorado should require a rigorous reading assessment tool to ensure that its early childhood education teacher candidates, who are licensed to teach elementary grades, 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 address all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. If the test is combined with an assessment that also tests general pedagogy or elementary content, it should report a subscore for the science of reading specifically. Early childhood teachers who do not possess the minimum knowledge in this area should not be eligible for licensure.
Ensure that elementary teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students.
Incorporate informational text of increasing complexity into classroom instruction. Although Colorado's literacy standards address complex texts, these standards do not ensure teachers' ability to incorporate these texts into instruction. Colorado is therefore encouraged to strengthen its teacher preparation requirements and ensure that all candidates who teach the elementary grades have the ability to address the use of informational text as well as to incorporate complex informational texts into classroom instruction.
Incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject. To ensure that elementary students are capable of accessing varied information about the world around them, Colorado should also—either through testing frameworks or teacher standards—more specifically include literacy skills and using text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts.
Colorado indicated that it does require preparation programs to address the science of reading through the educator preparation rules as embedded in the elementary content standards and teacher quality standards as well as through implementation and knowledge at the preservice level of the Colorado READ Act.
2D: Elementary Licensure Deficiencies
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.