Licensure Deficiencies: Indiana

2017 Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that new teachers who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license possess sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Meets in part

Analysis of Indiana's policies

Content Test Requirements: Indiana's early childhood education teachers, who are licensed to teach elementary grades through grade 3, are required to pass the Early Childhood Generalist test. This test requires passing scores on four subtests: reading and English language arts; math; science, health and physical education; and social studies and fine arts.

Scientifically Based Reading Instruction:
The Early Childhood Generalist test 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. In addition, early childhood education candidates are required to complete six semester hours of coursework in scientifically based reading instruction.

Informational Texts: Indiana's early childhood educator standards for science-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.
Literacy Skills: Indiana has no requirements for the preparation of early childhood education teachers that address the incorporation of literacy skills into the core content areas.

Struggling Readers: With regard to struggling readers, Indiana's standards for English language arts include "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. 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...." However, these standards do not go far enough to ensure that teachers are fully prepared to identify and support struggling readers.


Citation

Recommendations for Indiana

Require early childhood teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
Indiana should require all early childhood teacher candidates who teach the elementary grades to pass a content test with separate passing scores for each of the core subject areas. The state is on the right track by administering a test with separately scored subtests in language arts and math, thus making it harder for teachers to pass the overall test if they fail some subject areas. However, we encourage the state to further strengthen its policy and require separate, individual, passing scores for science and social science on its early childhood test. Doing so will help to ensure that every student is taught by a teacher with adequate subject-matter knowledge.

Ensure that early childhood teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students.

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 more specific requirements ensuring that early childhood education 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.

State response to our analysis

Indiana cited the state's elementary education pedagogy/developmental standards, specifically Standard 4: Developmentally Appropriate Methodology for Early Education, which states:

"Early childhood education teachers have a broad and comprehensive understanding of developmentally appropriate methods, instructional strategies, and learning tools, and demonstrate the ability to plan and use these methods, strategies, and tools to positively influence young children's development and learning, including:
4.2 the ability to use appropriate procedures for curricular planning and decision making for young children (e.g., defining scope and sequence, determining prerequisite knowledge and skills, aligning curricula with the Foundations and content standards); to plan meaningful, challenging curricula for each child; and to consider appropriate factors in planning (e.g., children's developmental characteristics, prior experiences, current knowledge and skills, assessment results, family and community characteristics, and readiness to learn; relevant early learning standards; the nature of the content to be taught; characteristics of effective lesson and unit plans)
4.7 the ability to integrate curricula, create interdisciplinary projects and units of study, and provide children with opportunities to explore content from integrated and varied perspectives; use higher-order thinking and creativity; solve problems; acquire, organize, analyze, and synthesize information; and work cooperatively and productively in group settings."

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

2D: Elementary Licensure Deficiencies

  • Adequate Content Knowledge: The state should ensure that all new elementary teacher candidates teaching under an early childhood license possess sufficient elementary content knowledge in all core subjects, including mathematics.
  • Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: The state should ensure that all new elementary teacher candidates teaching under an early childhood license are required to pass a rigorous test of scientifically based reading instruction. The design of the test should ensure that prospective teachers cannot pass without knowing the five scientifically based components of early reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • College- and Career-Readiness Standards: The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers teaching under an early childhood license are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction in all subject areas. Specifically,
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to incorporate informational texts of increasing complexity into instruction.
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to identify and support struggling readers.
Adequate Content Knowledge
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it requires early childhood teachers to pass the same individually scored content tests as elementary teachers.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires early childhood teachers to pass the same content tests as elementary teachers, but the content tests are not individually scored.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires all new early childhood teachers to pass a rigorous test of scientifically based reading instruction. The design of the test must ensure that all prospective teachers are competent in the five research-based components of early reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
College- and Career-Readiness Standards
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if its elementary teacher preparation tests or standards address the three components of college- and career-readiness standards. To earn credit, states must have at least one component "fully addressed" and two "partially addressed."

Research rationale

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.[1] 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,[2] states would put students at risk by not holding all elementary teachers to equivalent standards.[3] 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.[4] 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.


[1] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2016, June). Some assembly required: Piecing together the preparation preschool teachers need. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Preschool
[2] Student Achievement Partners. (2015). Research supporting the Common Core ELA/literacy shifts and standards. Retrieved from https://achievethecore.org/content/upload/Research%20Supporting%20the%20ELA%20Standards%20and%20Shifts%20Final.pdf
[3] Numerous research studies have established the strong relationship between teachers' vocabulary (a proxy for being broadly educated) and student achievement. For example: Wayne, A. J., & Youngs, P. (2003). Teacher characteristics and student achievement gains: A review. Review of Educational Research, 73(1), 89-122.; See also: Whitehurst, G. J. (2002, March). Scientifically based research on teacher quality: Research on teacher preparation and professional development. In White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teacher.; Ehrenberg, R. G., & Brewer, D. J. (1995). Did teachers' verbal ability and race matter in the 1960s? Coleman revisited. Economics of Education Review, 14(1), 1-21.; Research also connects individual content knowledge with increased reading comprehension, making the capacity of the teacher to infuse all instruction with content of particular importance for student achievement.; Willingham, D. T. (2006). How knowledge helps: It speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning, and thinking. American Educator, 30(1), 30. Retrieved from https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2006/how-knowledge-helps
[4] Torgesen, J.K. (November 2005). Preventing reading disabilities in young children: Requirements at the classroom and school level. Presented at the Western North Carolina LD/ADD Symposium.; Walsh, K., Glaser, D., & Wilcox, D. D. (2006). What education schools aren't teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren't learning. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf