2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.
Illinois 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. Illinois does require that all teacher candidates meet a set of language arts standards; however, these standards do not explicitly require that teachers receive training in the five essential components of reading instruction.
Illinois 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.
Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading.
Illinois 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.
Illinois should require a rigorous reading assessment tool to ensure that its elementary teacher candidates 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 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.
Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that recently passed legislation, awaiting the governor's signature, requires a reading methods and a reading in the content course for all teachers.
Unfortunately, merely requiring reading methods offers no assurance that the science of reading will be taught. NCTQ's recent study of teacher preparation in Illinois found that less than 20 percent of programs addressed scientifically based reading instruction in required coursework.