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: Wisconsin requires all early childhood candidates to pass the Praxis Elementary Education: Content
Knowledge (5018) test,
which does not report separate subscores in the core content areas of language arts, math, science, or social studies.
However, Wisconsin's new licensing structure, candidates for the state's Tier II license (which is the state's initial license) have the following options for demonstrating content knowledge:
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction—Tests and Standards: Wisconsin requires all teacher candidates teaching grades K-5 to pass the Foundations of Reading test objectives, including all five components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Wisconsin's early childhood preparation standards do not 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.
Require all early childhood candidates who are eligible to teach elementary grades to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
Wisconsin should require all early childhood education teacher candidates who teach elementary grades to pass a core content test. Although requiring a content test is a step in the right direction, the state should require separate, meaningful passing scores for each core subject covered on the test, including reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The state's current practice of using a composite passing score offers no assurance of adequate knowledge in each subject area and therefore fails to ensure that a candidate who achieves a passing score has the necessary subject-matter knowledge to teach a particular subject area.
Additionally, Wisconsin's policy allows teacher candidates to demonstrate content knowledge in ways that do not include the passage of a test with individual subscores. Relevant higher-level coursework provides the foundation for requisite content knowledge, but to ensure that teacher candidates possess sufficient subject-matter knowledge for the elementary classroom, Wisconsin should require all teacher candidates to pass a rigorous test. Doing so will help to ensure that every student is taught by a teacher with adequate subject-matter knowledge.
Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction.
Wisconsin should require teacher preparation programs in the state to train candidates in scientifically based reading instruction to help ensure that all teachers are well prepared in the science of reading instruction before entering the classroom.
Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. This analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.
2D: Elementary Licensure Requirements
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.