Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading
Instruction : West Virginia

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 : West Virginia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WV-Elementary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Reading-Instruction--6

Analysis of West Virginia's policies

In its coursework requirements for elementary teacher preparation programs, West Virginia requires programs to address the science of reading. Elementary teacher candidates must take nine credit hours in reading, which include a focus on the five instructional components of scientifically based reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension—as well as how to assess students' reading ability and how to identify and correct reading difficulties. Middle and secondary preparation programs must contain a minimum of three hours of reading in the content area, which include a focus on vocabulary, comprehension and writing.

However, West Virginia does not require teacher candidates to pass a reading assessment prior to certification or at any point thereafter to verify that they have been effectively trained in the science of reading instruction.


Recommendations for West Virginia

Require teacher candidates to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
Although West Virginia is commended for requiring teacher preparation programs to address the science of reading, the state should also 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

West Virginia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is exploring the option of adopting a new Praxis II elementary education test, which will include subscores for each of the four content areas: reading, math, social studies and 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:

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).