The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.
Rhode Island does not require that teacher preparation programs for elementary teacher candidates address the science of reading. The state has neither coursework requirements nor standards related to this critical area. Rhode Island does require that all elementary teacher candidates must take some coursework in reading; however, it does not explicitly require that teachers receive training in the five essential components of reading instruction.
Although Rhode Island's PK-12 Literacy Policy addresses the five components of scientifically based reading instruction, it serves only as guidance for local curricula decisions and undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation coursework.
Rhode Island 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.
Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction.
Rhode Island should ensure that teacher preparation programs adequately prepare elementary teacher candidates in the science of reading by requiring, not just recommending, that these programs train candidates in the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
Rhode Island 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.
Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is proposing new certification regulations that may address some of these concerns. The draft was to be released for public comment at the end of August, and the schedule would include adopting new regulations by December.