Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction: Indiana

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction and are prepared for the instructional shifts related to literacy associated with college-and career-readiness standards.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction: Indiana results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IN-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction-69

Analysis of Indiana's policies

Indiana requires elementary candidates to pass the elementary education generalist CORE assessment, which includes the equivalent of a stand alone science of reading test and addresses the five components of scientific reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Further, Indiana requires that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teacher candidates with training in the foundations of scientifically based reading instruction. 
Elementary teacher candidates must be prepared for the key instructional shifts related to literacy that differentiate college- and career-readiness standards from their predecessors. Indiana's elementary educator standards for scientifically based reading instruction incorporate the instructional shifts in the use of text associated with college- and career-readiness standards and require the following:

  • Knowledge of key concepts and scientifically based reading research in comprehension and analysis of informational texts, such as levels of reading comprehension as applied to these texts; comprehension strategies; critical reading; text-based and nontext-based factors that  affect reading comprehension; and genres, text structures, characteristics and graphic, textual and organizational features of informational texts
  • Ability to provide SBRR-based, evidence-based and developmentally appropriate assessment, instruction, intervention, extension, and ongoing progress monitoring in comprehension and analysis of informational texts. 
Standards for English language arts include the following: "Ability to comprehend, interpret and analyze nonliterary texts, such as informational texts." Indiana's testing standards outline similar informational text requirements.

Neither teacher standards nor testing requirements address the incorporation of literacy skills into core content areas.

With regard to struggling readers, the state's standards require teachers to use "strategies and skills to effectively assess students' understanding and mastery of essential English language arts concepts and skills, using ongoing assessment to monitor progress and inform instruction and applying Response to Instruction (RtI) procedures." New legislation in Indiana also requires teacher preparation programs to prepare candidates to be able "to recognize a student who is not progressing at a normal rate related to reading and may need to be referred to the school's multidisciplinary team...."


Recommendations for Indiana

Ensure that new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
Indiana's standards are commendable regarding informational texts. To further strengthen its policy, however, the state should expand these standards to include literacy skills and use text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts. 

Support struggling readers. 
Indiana should articulate specific requirements ensuring that elementary teachers are prepared to intervene and support students who are struggling. The early elementary grades are an especially important time to address reading deficiencies before students fall behind. Indiana should also monitor teacher preparation programs. Indiana is encouraged to make certain its teacher preparation programs are actually providing adequate training in the instructional shifts associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students.

State response to our analysis

Indiana was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. Indiana also indicated that the state will be requiring teacher preparation programs to meet CAEP standards that include a focus on helping students achieve college-and career-readiness standards. Reading instruction has been expanded to include “interventions that are direct, explicit, and multi-sensory” and teacher preparation programs have been instructed to incorporate this into their programs. The Indiana Department of Education will be monitoring implementation of this new requirement in order to ensure compliance.

The state added that the Indiana Department of Education provides summer professional development opportunities for teachers focused on literacy across content areas. The purpose is to provide educators an opportunity to “focus on building instructional best practices that support Indiana’s Academic Standards, ways to utilize and discuss data to drive interventions, components of effective leadership to drive school improvement efforts, and developing supportive and responsive evaluation practices.” School leadership teams, instructional coaches, elementary and secondary teachers, secondary English/Language Arts and Math teachers, and secondary content teachers are encouraged to participate.
Finally, Indiana noted that the Indiana Education Educator standards are aligned with the standards of the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), which is the Specialized Professional Association (SPA) for Elementary Education. The state considers Indiana's alignment with ACEI standard 2.1 should indicate evidence of expanding literacy skills to other content areas.

Research rationale

Reading science has identified five components of effective instruction.
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. By routinely applying in the classroom the lessons learned from the scientific findings, most reading failure can be avoided. 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. NCTQ's reports 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 2013 and 2014, have consistently found the overwhelming majority of teacher preparation programs across the country do not train teachers in the science of reading. 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 a license 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 a 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. 
Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction: Supporting Research
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:http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf.

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, Vol. 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). 

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).

For an extensive summary of the research base supporting the instructional shifts associated with college- and career-readiness standards, see "Research Supporting the Common Core ELA Literacy Shifts and Standards" available from Student Achievement Partners.