Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that new elementary teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the science of reading instruction. This goal has been revised since 2017.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction—Tests and Standards: Elementary teachers in Georgia are required to pass the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Elementary Education Assessment. This test does not address the science of reading and therefore does not amount to a stand-alone reading test.
In its standards for elementary education teacher preparation, Georgia requires teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading.
Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Because provisional and emergency licensure requirements are scored in Provisional and Emergency Licensure, only the test requirements for the state's initial license are considered as part of this goal.
Test Requirement www.gace.ets.org Georgia Rules 505-3-.13 -.14 and 505-3-.96 Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) State Partners http://caepnet.org/working-together/state-partners 2018 CAEP K-6 Elementary Teacher Preparation Standards http://caepnet.org/accreditation/caep-accreditation/caep-k-6-elementary-teacher-standards
Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that, although a separate stand-alone reading assessment is not required for Georgia certification in the field of Early Childhood Education (P-5), the state-approved GACE certification assessment for this field (ECE P-5) contains a sub-test with sub-scores that addresses the science of reading and is a blend of a compensatory model and a fully conjunctive model. In Georgia's model, Subarea I (reading/language arts) is one of three subareas in Test I of the GACE Early Childhood Education (P-5) Assessment. This subarea counts 50% of Test I. The probability of passing Test I with a low score on Subarea I, is psychometrically very low.
Additionally, Georgia noted that to help ensure the GACE assessments sufficiently measure the content area and for the grades bands covered in the area of certification, the GACE assessments were developed by diverse and representative test development, bias review, and standard setting committees each consisting of Georgia educators in the content field and those that prepare educators in the content field, in collaboration with a national testing supplier. Each content area GACE is aligned with the state's P12 content standards, the GaPSC program approval content standards, and national standards.
Although Georgia asserts that passing the Test I of the GACE Elementary Education Assessment with low subscores in one or more of the separate content areas is psychometrically very
low, the test composition still makes this a possibility. The
first subtest includes reading
and language arts (50%), social studies (25%) and Constructed Response
(25%). The subtest integrates this topic with too many other topics related to English Language Arts, as well as at least one other core subject, to serve as a reliable measure of a candidate's knowledge of the science of reading. Unless passing scores
are required for scientifically based reading instruction content specifically, there is no assurance that the
has mastered this subject matter.
2C: Teaching Elementary Reading
Teaching children to read is the most important task teachers undertake. Over the past 60 years, scientists from many fields have worked to determine how people learn to read and why some struggle. This science of reading has led to breakthroughs that can dramatically reduce the number of children destined to become functionally illiterate or barely literate adults, identifying five components of effective instruction. In fact, most reading failure can be avoided by routinely applying the lessons learned from the scientific findings in the classroom. Estimates indicate that the current failure rate of 20 to 30 percent could be reduced to 2 to 10 percent.
Scientific research has shown that there are five essential components of effective reading instruction: explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Many states' policies still do not reflect the strong research consensus in reading instruction that has emerged over the last few decades. Many teacher preparation programs resist teaching scientifically-based reading instruction. Reports by NCTQ on teacher preparation, beginning with What Education Schools Aren't Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning in 2006 and continuing through the Teacher Prep Review in 2016 have consistently found the overwhelming majority of teacher preparation programs across the country do not train teachers in the science of reading, although the most recent Teacher Prep Review did find signs of improvement. Whether through standards or coursework requirements, states must direct programs to provide this critical training. But relying on programs alone is insufficient; states must only grant licenses to new elementary teachers who can demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills to teach children to read.
Most current reading tests do not offer assurance that teachers know the science of reading. A growing number of states, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Virginia, require strong, stand-alone assessments entirely focused on the science of reading. Other states rely on either pedagogy tests or content tests that include items on reading instruction. However, since reading instruction is addressed only in one small part of most of these tests, it is often not necessary to know the science of reading to pass. States need to make sure that a teacher candidate cannot pass a test that purportedly covers reading instruction without knowing the critical material.
College- and career-readiness standards require significant shifts in literacy instruction. College- and career-readiness standards for K-12 students adopted by nearly all states require from teachers a different focus on literacy integrated into all subject areas. The standards demand that teachers are prepared to bring complex text and academic language into regular use, emphasize the use of evidence from informational and literary texts and build knowledge and vocabulary through content-rich text. While most states have not ignored teachers' need for training and professional development related to these instructional shifts, few states have attended to the parallel need to align teacher competencies and requirements for teacher preparation so that new teachers will enter the classroom ready to help students meet the expectations of these standards.