Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction : Washington

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction : Washington results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WA-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction--6

Analysis of Washington's policies

In its standards for elementary teacher preparation, Washington requires teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading. Programs must provide training in the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

As of the 2011-2012 school year, all teacher preparation programs must administer the "evidence-based assessment of teaching effectiveness" to all preservice candidates. However, it does not appear that this assessment places any special emphasis on reading instruction.


Recommendations for Washington

Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
While Washington is commended for its new pre-service assessment, it is unclear how this test will be used to measure teacher candidates' knowledge and skills related to the science of reading. The assessment should report a subscore for the science of reading specifically, and elementary teachers who do not possess the minimum knowledge in this area should not be eligible for licensure.

State response to our analysis

Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is one of five lead states in the 20-state consortium implementing the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA), which is based on California's TPA and being developed by Stanford University and Pearson. This assessment will be required for the completion of a state teacher preparation program beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.

Research rationale

For evidence on what new teachers are not learning about reading instruction, see NCTQ, "What Education Schools Aren't Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning" (2006) at:

For problems with existing reading tests, see S. Stotsky, "Why American Students Do Not Learn to Read Very Well: The Unintended Consequences of Title II and Teacher Testing," Third Education Group Review 2 No. 2 (2006); and D. W. Rigden, Report on Licensure Alignment with the Essential Components of Effective Reading Instruction (Washington, D.C.: Reading First Teacher Education Network, 2006) at: 

For information on where states set passing scores on elementary level content tests for teacher licensing across the U.S., see chart on p. 13 of NCTQ "Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Removing the Roadblocks: How Federal Policy Can Cultivate Effective Teachers," (2011).