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: Virginia offers two endorsements that cover both early childhood and elementary grades, the PreK-6 elementary endorsement and the early/primary PreK-3 early childhood education endorsement. Virginia requires candidates with either endorsement to pass the Praxis Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects test (5001). This test is comprised of four subtests with individual scores in math, reading and language arts, science, and social studies. Candidates must pass each subtest to be eligible for licensure.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: As a condition of initial licensure, Virginia requires all early childhood teacher candidates to pass the Praxis Reading for Virginia Educators Assessment, which addresses the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Virginia's preparation standards for the early childhood teacher preparation also 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.
Praxis Tests www.ets.org/praxis June 27, 2013, Board Meeting Summary http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2013/06_jun/summary.pdf Virginia Administrative Code 8 VAC 20-23-150, 8 VAC 20-542-110 Assessment Requirements for Virginia Licensure http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/prof_teacher_assessment.pdf
Due to Virginia's strong policies in early childhood preparation, no recommendations are provided.
Virginia was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
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.