Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
Although Ohio has adopted the Common Core Standards, the state does not ensure that its early childhood teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
Ohio requires early childhood candidates (PK-3) to pass the Praxis II test "Education of Young Children," an assessment with limited subject-matter substance. Only the middle childhood education (4-9) teachers are required to pass a Praxis II general subject-matter test. While distinguishing between the subject-matter needs of different groups of teachers by requiring different tests is certainly sound, both assessments must adequately test for required subject-matter knowledge. This does not appear to be the case here. The selected test for early childhood teachers put the state in questionable compliance with NCLB's requirements that all elementary teachers take a test of broad subject matter. Further, based on available information on the Praxis II, there is no reason to expect that the current versions would be well aligned with the Common Core Standards.
In addition, Ohio does not specify any general education requirements, nor does it require any subject-matter coursework specifically designed for early childhood teacher candidates. The state does, however, require that candidates seeking middle licenses be prepared in the humanities (including the arts) as well as two areas of concentration that include reading and language arts, science and social studies. Unfortunately, the state's language is not specific enough to ensure that these courses will be relevant to the topics covered in the elementary-level classrooms.
Ohio has also adopted NCATE's National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards for approving its early childhood programs. However, NAEYC standards fall far short of the mark. They are lacking in specific academic content and offer no assurance that candidates will receive liberal arts preparation in core academic areas.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Ohio Administrative Code 3301-24-03, -05 Praxis II www.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Ohio should ensure that its subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates is well aligned with the Common Core Standards, which represent an effort to significantly raise the standards for the knowledge and skills American students will need for college readiness and global competitiveness.
The state should also require separate passing scores for each content area on the test because without them it is impossible to measure knowledge of individual subjects. Further, to be meaningful, Ohio should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Ohio should either articulate a more specific set of standards or establish comprehensive coursework requirements that are specifically geared to the areas of knowledge needed by PK-6 teachers. Further, the state should align its requirements for elementary teacher candidates with the Common Core Standards to ensure that candidates will complete coursework relevant to the common topics in elementary grades. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts.
Require at least an academic concentration.
An academic concentration, if not a full academic major, would not only enhance Ohio teachers' content knowledge, but it would also ensure that prospective teachers have taken higher-level academic coursework. Further, it would provide an option for teacher candidates unable to fulfill student teaching or other professional requirements to still earn a degree.
Ensure that arts and sciences faculty teach liberal arts coursework.
Although an education professor is best suited to teach effective methodologies in subject instruction, faculty from the university's college of arts and sciences should provide subject-matter foundation.
Ohio recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.