Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that new teachers who are licensed to teach elementary grades under an early childhood license demonstrate sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction. This goal has been revised since 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. Additionally, Oklahoma's early childhood preparation standards address the science of reading instruction.
Provisional and Emergency Licensure: Because provisional and emergency licensure requirements are scored in Provisional and Emergency Licensure, only the test requirements for the state's initial license are considered as part of this goal.
Test Requirement 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.
The state asserted that its Early Childhood OSAT assesses content knowledge in reading (scientifically based reading instruction), math (number sense and numeration, whole-number operations, geometry, statistics and probability, fractions), science (life science and physical science), social studies (history, geography, government, and economics), as well as child development.
Tests that summarize performance by sub-area are fundamentally different than a test with separately scored subtests requiring specific passing scores for each section.
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.