Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy
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: Idaho's early childhood education teachers, who are licensed to teach elementary grades through grade 3, are required to pass the Praxis Early Childhood Education (5025) test and the Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood test (5691). The Early Childhood Education test does not report separate subscores in the core content areas of language arts, math,
science, or social studies.
Instead, it provides one composite score.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction—Tests and Standards: As a condition of initial licensure, all early childhood candidates teaching the elementary grades must pass the state's Comprehensive Literacy Assessment, which addresses all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. However, the state's description of the test includes references to standards that are not aligned with the science of reading.
Additionally, Idaho's preparation standards address the science of reading instruction.
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 Requirements www.ets.org/praxis Idaho Administrative Code 08.02.02.022.06 Idaho Statute 33-1207A Idaho Standards for Initial Certification of Professional School Personnel http://www.sde.idaho.gov/cert-psc/psc/standards/files/standards-initial/Standards-Initial-Certification-for-Program-Reviews-after-July-1-2021.pdf
Require all early childhood candidates who are eligible to teach elementary grades to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
Idaho should require all early childhood education teacher candidates who teach elementary grades to pass a core content test. Although requiring a content test is a step in the right direction, the state should require separate, meaningful passing scores for each core subject covered on the test, including reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The state's current practice of using a composite passing score offers no assurance of adequate knowledge in each subject area and therefore fails to ensure that a candidate who achieves a passing score has the necessary subject-matter knowledge to teach a particular subject area.
Ensure that the science of reading test is meaningful.
To ensure that its science of reading test is sufficiently rigorous, Idaho should evaluate its passing score to make certain it reflects a high standard of performance and that all teachers are well-prepared in the science of reading instruction before entering the classroom. Further, it appears that the assessment spans K-12 literacy, which might make it possible for candidates to achieve the passing score without sufficient knowledge and skills for the elementary classroom.
Idaho indicated that there is nothing it needs to add or revise to the report, and that it is factually accurate based on NCTQ's interpretation.
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.