Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction : Hawaii

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction : Hawaii results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/HI-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction--6

Analysis of Hawaii's policies

Hawaii does not require that teacher preparation programs for elementary teacher candidates address the science of reading. The state has neither coursework requirements nor standards related to this critical area.

Hawaii 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.

Recommendations for Hawaii

Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teacher candidates in the science of reading.
Hawaii should require that teacher preparation programs in the state train candidates 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.
Hawaii should 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

Hawaii asserted that its teacher education programs are required to ensure that candidates are prepared in the state's Areas of Special Emphasis, which includes Beginning Reading. Programs must present evidence in their SATE review that their candidates are competent in this area.

Hawaii also contended that its elementary education content test includes concepts regarding the science of reading. 

Last word

Requiring programs to address beginning reading in no way ensures that teacher candidates are being trained in scientifically based reading instruction. In numerous NCTQ studies, beginning with the national study "What Education Schools Aren't Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning," published in 2006, NCTQ has found that most preparation programs neglect the reading science.  

Further, while Hawaii's Praxis II elementary education content test may contain a few questions aligned with the science of reading, a specific subscore for this section is not required. Therefore, candidates may answer many questions incorrectly but still go on to pass the test. 

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).