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: Colorado's early childhood education teachers, who are licensed to teach elementary students through age 8, 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 that includes separate, meaningful passing scores for each core subject, including reading/language arts, math, science and social studies. Although the state requires appropriate testing for elementary teachers teaching on an elementary certificate, Colorado creates a significant loophole by not holding early childhood teachers who teach elementary grades to the same requirements. The state's current practice of allowing teachers up through age 8 to teach without ever having passed a content test is particularly worrisome and should be amended.
Colorado recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis, however 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.