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: Beginning January 2020, Texas will begin issuing PreK-3 early childhood licenses. It is unclear whether candidates must pass the Early Childhood PK-3 (292) test as a condition of initial licensure. Additionally, this test is not an adequate test of content knowledge in the core subjects of English language arts, math, science, and social studies.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: It is unclear whether candidates for the state's new early childhood license will have to pass the Science of Teaching Reading (293) test. The state should require this strong reading test of its early childhood education candidates who teach elementary grades.
In its standards for early childhood programs, Texas requires preparation programs to address the science of reading instruction.
There is current legislation that would require all PK-6 teachers to demonstrate proficiency in the science of reading by passing a certification exam beginning January 1, 2021.
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 http://www.tx.nesinc.com/ Required Texas Certification Tests https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/Required%20and%20Replacement%20Test%20Chart%202019-20_0.pdf Test Frameworks https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Educator_Testing/New_Educator_Standards_and_Test_Frameworks 19 Texas Administrative Code 233.2 and 235.11 through .19, and 101 Legislation https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/12_19_230cdegp1219.pdf
Require early childhood teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
Texas 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, Texas 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.
Require all teacher candidates who teach elementary grades to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
Texas should require a rigorous reading assessment tool to ensure that its early childhood 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 address all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. If the test is combined with an assessment that also tests general pedagogy or elementary content, it should report a subscore for the science of reading specifically. Early childhood teachers who do not possess the minimum knowledge in this area should not be eligible for licensure.
Texas asserted that preK-3 candidates will be required to pass the Early Childhood PK-3 (292) test as a condition of initial licensure.
They will also have to pass the Science of Teaching Reading (293) test. While the rulemaking is not complete for these (see link below for discussion text), this has always been the expectation and has been communicated widely to the field.
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.