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: Oklahoma only requires its early childhood education teacher candidates, who are licensed to teach elementary grades through grade 3, to pass the Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT) Early
Childhood Education (005) test, which may assess pedagogy but is not an adequate measure of subject-matter knowledge.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: Oklahoma requires all early childhood education teacher candidates to pass a test of scientifically based reading instruction as a condition of initial licensure. This test addresses all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
Informational Texts: Oklahoma's Early Childhood Education test does not include informational texts. However, Oklahoma's competencies for early childhood licensure require that a teacher "knows and applies strategies that promote comprehension and strategies to support children's understanding for the various elements of the different genres of text."
Literacy Skills: Oklahoma also has no requirements for the preparation of early childhood education teachers that address the incorporation of literacy into core content areas.
Struggling Readers: Oklahoma also has requirements for the preparation of early childhood education teachers that partially address struggling readers. Teacher preparation programs are required to provide all early childhood education candidates with "quality training in intervention, instruction, and remediation strategies in order to meet the needs of students in K-3 who are determined to be at risk of reading difficulties." In addition, new legislation requires preparation in "strategies for instruction, assessment and intervention for literacy development for...struggling readers who are coping with a range of challenges, including, but not limited to, English learners and learners with handicapping conditions and learning disabilities (including dyslexia)."
CEOE www.ceoe.nesinc.com Oklahoma Statutes Title 70 Section 1210.508F Oklahoma Administrative Code 210:20-9-172 HB 1789 (2017)
Require early childhood teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
Oklahoma 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, including reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Although the state requires appropriate testing for elementary teachers teaching on an elementary certificate, Oklahoma creates a significant loophole by not holding early childhood teachers who teach elementary grades to the same requirements. The state's current practice of allowing teachers up through grade 3 to teach without ever having passed a content test is particularly worrisome and should be amended.
Ensure that the science of reading test is meaningful.
To ensure that its science of reading test is sufficiently rigorous, Oklahoma should evaluate its passing score to make certain it reflects a high standard of performance and that all teachers are well-prepared in the science of reading instruction before entering the classroom.
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.
To ensure that elementary students are capable of accessing varied information about the world around them, Oklahoma 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.
Support struggling readers.
Oklahoma should articulate more specific requirements ensuring that all candidates who teach elementary grades 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.
Oklahoma was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state also asserted that the Early Childhood OSAT test is a content exam and assesses not only literacy/knowledge of research based reading instruction and assessment, but also childhood development and learning, knowledge of the skills and concepts and vocabulary in Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts and Physical Development as well.
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.