Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy
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.
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:
Test Requirements http://www.in.nesinc.com/ Indiana Administrative Code 515 IAC 8-1-4.1 IC 20-28-3-5 Content Standards for Educators http://www.doe.in.gov/licensing/repa-teacher-standards
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.
Indiana cited the state's elementary education pedagogy/developmental standards, specifically Standard 4: Developmentally Appropriate Methodology for Early Education, which states:
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.