Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction: Ohio

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction and are prepared for the instructional shifts related to literacy associated with college-and career-readiness standards.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction: Ohio results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/OH-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction-69

Analysis of Ohio's policies

Beginning July 1, 2017, all new candidates for Ohio's PreK-3 or 4-9 license will be required to earn a passing score on an examination of principles of scientifically research-based reading instruction.

In its coursework requirements for all teacher candidates, Ohio also requires teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading. The state requires all teachers to take at least three credit hours of coursework in reading instruction. To obtain licensure in early or middle childhood or special education, teacher candidates must complete 12 credit hours in the teaching of reading, which must include a distinct three-credit-hour course in the teaching of phonics. Programs must provide training in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension.

Elementary teacher candidates must be prepared for the key instructional shifts related to literacy that differentiate college- and career-readiness standards from their predecessors. Early childhood education teachers, who are allowed to teach up through grade 3, need only pass the Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE) Early Childhood Education test, which does not include the instructional shifts toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through increasingly complex informational texts and careful reading of informational and literary texts associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students.

Elementary teachers in Ohio opting to teach grades 4 and 5 must pass the OAE Elementary Education exam. The testing framework requires teachers to '"demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics and features of various types of informational, persuasive, and functional texts, and strategies for promoting students' comprehension of various types of texts and analysis of text structures."

Ohio's reading competencies require teachers to "understand the reading demands posed by domain specific and increasingly complex texts." Teachers must be able to:

  • Select narrative or informational print or digital texts that are appropriate to the comprehension instruction to be provided
  • Provide comprehension instruction that supports students' ability to read multiple print and digital texts at an increasingly complex level.
Neither standards nor testing frameworks adequately address incorporating literacy into other content areas.

Ohio's reading competencies address the needs of struggling readers. Teachers are required to:
  • Scaffold instruction for students having difficulty with a foundational component(s) of reading (e.g., phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension)
  • Use data to differentiate instruction for all students, monitor student progress and adjust instruction as appropriate.
In addition, the state's reading course requirement "includes training in a range of instructional strategies for teaching reading, in the assessment of reading skills, and in the diagnosis and remediation of reading difficulties."


Recommendations for Ohio

Ensure that the science of reading test is meaningful.
To ensure that its science of reading test is meaningful, Ohio should evaluate its passing score to make certain it reflects a high standard of performance.

Ensure that new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate informational text of increasing complexity into classroom instruction.
Ohio fails to address the major instructional shifts of college- and career-readiness standards. The state is therefore encouraged to strengthen its teacher preparation requirements and ensure that all elementary candidates have the ability to adequately incorporate complex informational text into classroom instruction.

Ensure that new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
To ensure that elementary students are capable of accessing varied information about the world around them, Ohio should also—either through testing frameworks or teacher standards—include literacy skills and using text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts.

State response to our analysis

Ohio was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis. Ohio indicated that the middle grades candidates (4-9) will also be required to pass a rigorous examination of principles of scientifically research-based reading instruction (aligned with the competencies).

The state mentioned testing requirements for a reading endorsement, which include the Praxis II Teaching Reading (5204) or the OAE Reading Subtest 1 (038) and Reading Subtest II (039).

Ohio referenced the Revised Code that pertains to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The language guarantees that a child who is struggling with reading in the grade 3 "shall be assigned a teacher who has at least one year of teaching experience and who satisfies one or more of the following criteria:
(a) The teacher holds a reading endorsement
(b) The teacher has completed a master’s degree program with a major in reading.
(c) The teacher was rated “most effective” for reading instruction
(d) The teacher was rated “above expected value added” in reading instruction
(e)The teacher has earned a passing score on a rigorous test for principles of scientifically research-based reading instruction

Research rationale

Reading science has identified five components of effective instruction.
Teaching children to read is the most important task teachers undertake. Over the past 60 years, scientists from many fields have worked to determine how people learn to read and why some struggle. This science of reading has led to breakthroughs that can dramatically reduce the number of children destined to become functionally illiterate or barely literate adults. By routinely applying in the classroom the lessons learned from the scientific findings, most reading failure can be avoided. Estimates indicate that the current failure rate of 20 to 30 percent could be reduced to 2 to 10 percent.

Scientific research has shown that there are five essential components of effective reading instruction: explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Many states' policies still do not reflect the strong research consensus in reading instruction that has emerged over the last few decades. Many teacher preparation programs resist teaching scientifically based reading instruction. NCTQ's reports on teacher preparation, beginning with What Education Schools Aren't Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning in 2006 and continuing through the Teacher Prep Review in 2013 and 2014, have consistently found the overwhelming majority of teacher preparation programs across the country do not train teachers in the science of reading. Whether through standards or coursework requirements, states must direct programs to provide  this critical training. But relying on programs alone is insufficient; states must only grant a license to new elementary teachers who can demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills to teach children to read.

Most current reading tests do not offer assurance that teachers know the science of reading.
A growing number of states, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia, require strong, stand-alone assessments entirely focused on the science of reading. Other states rely on either pedagogy tests or content tests that include items on reading instruction. However, since reading instruction is addressed only in one small part of most of these tests, it is often not necessary to know the science of reading to pass. States need to make sure that a teacher candidate cannot pass a test that purportedly covers reading instruction without knowing the critical material.

College- and career-readiness standards require significant shifts in literacy instruction.  
College- and career-readiness standards for K-12 students adopted by nearly all states require from a teachers a different focus on literacy integrated into all subject areas. The standards demand that teachers are prepared to bring complex text and academic language into regular use, emphasize the use of evidence from informational and literary texts and build knowledge and vocabulary through content-rich text. While most states have not ignored teachers' need for training and professional development related to these instructional shifts, few states have attended to the parallel need to align teacher competencies and requirements for teacher preparation so that new teachers will enter the classroom ready to help students meet the expectations of these standards. 
Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction: Supporting Research
For evidence on what new teachers are not learning about reading instruction, see NCTQ, "What Education Schools Aren't Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning" 2006) at:http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf.

For problems with existing reading tests, see S. Stotsky, "Why American Students Do Not Learn to Read Very Well: The Unintended Consequences of Title II and Teacher Testing," Third Education Group Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2006; and D. W. Rigden, Report on Licensure Alignment with the Essential Components of Effective Reading Instruction (Washington, D.C.: Reading First Teacher Education Network, 2006). 

For information on where states set passing scores on elementary level content tests for teacher licensing across the U.S., see chart on p. 13 of NCTQ "Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Removing the Roadblocks: How Federal Policy Can Cultivate Effective Teachers," (2011).

For an extensive summary of the research base supporting the instructional shifts associated with college- and career-readiness standards, see "Research Supporting the Common Core ELA Literacy Shifts and Standards" available from Student Achievement Partners.