The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.
Nebraska does not require that teacher preparation programs for elementary teacher candidates address the science of reading.
The state does require teacher preparation programs to ensure that teacher candidates participate "in activities which will enable them to develop competencies in teaching the reading and writing skills necessary" for their teaching fields. However, Nebraska's standards do not make any mention of the five essential components of reading instruction.
The state's standards are accompanied by endorsement guidelines, which do specifically address the science of reading. Unfortunately, the document states that "the guidelines recommended for use with Rule 24 are suggestions only."
Nebraska 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.
Nebraska Department of Education Title 92 Chapter 20 005.10 http://www.education.ne.gov/legal/webrulespdf/Rule%2024%20Guidelines_2010.pdf
Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction.
Nebraska should ensure that teacher preparation programs adequately prepare elementary teacher candidates in the science of reading by requiring that these programs train candidates in the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Although Nebraska's endorsement guidelines commendably address the science of reading, these are merely recommendations. There is no assurance that teacher preparation programs will incorporate these components into the curriculum for elementary teacher candidates.
Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
Nebraska 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.
Nebraska contended that although the Rule 24 Guidelines include the statement "recommended for use with Rule 24," all institutions are held accountable for all elements contained in the guidelines. The state monitors compliance during the annual program approval process as well as during the periodic comprehensive program approval review.
Nebraska should clarify its wording—and ideally codify the requirement—to ensure that elementary teacher candidates are prepared in the science of reading.