Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction : Wisconsin

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction : Wisconsin results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WI-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction--6

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Wisconsin 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. Wisconsin 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.

Recommendations for Wisconsin

Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction.
Wisconsin should require that teacher preparation programs in the state 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.
Wisconsin 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.

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin asserted that candidates must be able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of teaching reading and language arts using appropriate instructional methods, and that program providers are charged to provide evidence of such during the program approval process. The state also pointed out that in March 2011, Governor Walker issued an executive order to convene a Read-to-Lead task force, which has been meeting monthly to review the reading needs for Wisconsin students. 

Last word

Requiring programs to address the teaching of reading in no way ensures that teacher candidates are being trained in scientifically based reading instruction. In numerous NCTQ studies, beginning with the national study "What Education Schools Aren't Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning," published in 2006, NCTQ has found that most preparation programs neglect the reading science.  

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:
http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf

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: 
http://www.tegr.org/Review/Articles/vol2/v2n2.pdf.

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).