The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.
In its Reading Course Revision Guidelines, Maryland requires teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading. Programs must provide training in the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The state also requires reading coursework for all teacher candidates: 12 credit hours for early childhood and elementary teacher candidates and six credit hours for secondary teacher candidates.
However, Maryland does not require teacher candidates to pass a reading assessment prior to certification or at any point thereafter to verify that they have been effectively trained in the science of reading instruction.
Additionally, the state allows in-service early childhood and elementary teachers who were certified prior to September 2001 to test out of its coursework requirements by passing the Praxis II test, "Reading Across the Curriculum," which covers the five components of reading.
Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 13A.12.02.04 http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/certification/progapproval/RC.htm
Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
Although the state is commended for requiring teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading, Maryland should also require a rigorous assessment tool to ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared 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.
Maryland asserted that all elementary teacher preparation programs train teachers in the science of reading, including the five instructional components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Candidates must complete 12 course hours in the following areas: acquisition and processes of reading, instruction in reading, assessment of reading and materials for teaching reading. The requirement for the courses became effective January 1, 1999, and the requirement that they address scientifically based reading was implemented in 2004.
Maryland further noted that all four-year and two-year preparation programs revised their reading courses to address the science of reading. Reading Course Revision Guidelines were created by a committee representing reading professionals from higher education and local school systems. The proposed guidelines were reviewed and endorsed by Dr. Louisa Moats of Sopris West Educational Services and Dr. Marcia Davidson, a senior research associate at RMC Research Corporation. The state added that there are more than 200 courses that address the science of reading instruction offered in Maryland's colleges and universities.
Finally, Maryland contended that there is no test-out option for reading content in preparation programs. The test-out option for reading became available in September 2001, and it was only for in-service teachers who were certified prior to the implementation of the statewide reading course requirements.
In this analysis, NCTQ acknowledges the state's coursework requirements. However, to ensure requisite knowledge in the science of reading, Maryland is urged to require all elementary teachers to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.