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: West Virginia requires its early childhood education teacher candidates, who are licensed to teach kindergarten through grade 4, to pass the Praxis Education of Young Children (5024) assessment, which may assess pedagogy but is not an adequate measure of subject-matter knowledge.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction—Tests and Standards: Beginning September 2020, West Virginia will require all early childhood teacher candidates to pass the Praxis Teaching Reading: Elementary Education (5205) test as a condition of initial licensure.
West Virginia'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 early childhood teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
West Virginia should require all early childhood teacher candidates who teach the elementary grades to pass a content test with separate passing scores for each of the core subject areas, including reading/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Although the state requires appropriate testing for elementary teachers teaching on an elementary certificate, West Virginia creates a significant loophole by not holding early childhood teachers who teach elementary grades to the same requirements. The state's current practice of allowing teachers up through grade 3 to teach without ever having passed a content test is particularly worrisome and should be amended.
Ensure that teacher preparation programs prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction.
West Virginia 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.
West Virginia was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that the Praxis II Teaching Reading: Elementary Education testing requirement has been in effect since November 2013. The newly regenerated Teaching Reading Elementary (5205) will replace the older version of this assessment and test takers are able to take either until September 1, 2020.
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.