Teaching Reading: Indiana

2017 Elementary Teacher Preparation Policy


The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction and are prepared for the instructional shifts related to literacy associated with college-and career-readiness standards. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Nearly meets

Analysis of Indiana's policies

Scientifically Based Reading Instruction—Tests and Standards: Indiana requires elementary candidates to pass the elementary education generalist CORE assessment, which includes the equivalent of a stand-alone science of reading test and addresses the five components of scientific reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Further, Indiana requires that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teacher candidates with training in the foundations of scientifically based reading instruction. In addition, Indiana requires its elementary candidate to take six semester hours of coursework in scientifically based reading instruction.
Informational Texts: Elementary teacher candidates must be prepared for the key instructional shifts related to literacy that differentiate college- and career-readiness standards from their predecessors. Indiana's elementary educator standards for scientifically based reading instruction incorporate the instructional shifts in the use of text associated with college- and career-readiness standards and require the following:

  • Knowledge of key concepts and scientifically based reading research in comprehension and analysis of informational texts, such as levels of reading comprehension as applied to these texts; comprehension strategies; critical reading; text-based and nontext-based factors that affect reading comprehension; and genres, text structures, characteristics and graphic, textual and organizational features of informational texts
  • Ability to provide SBRR-based, evidence-based and developmentally appropriate assessment, instruction, intervention, extension, and ongoing progress monitoring in comprehension and analysis of informational texts. 
Standards for English language arts include the following: "Ability to comprehend, interpret and analyze nonliterary texts, such as informational texts." Indiana's testing standards outline similar informational text requirements.

Literacy Skills: Indiana has no requirements for the preparation of elementary teachers that address the incorporation of literacy skills into the core content areas.

Struggling Readers: With regard to struggling readers, the state's standards require teachers to use "strategies and skills to effectively assess students' understanding and mastery of essential English language arts concepts and skills, using ongoing assessment to monitor progress and inform instruction and applying Response to Instruction (RtI) procedures." Indiana also requires teacher preparation programs to prepare candidates to be able "to recognize a student who is not progressing at a normal rate related to reading and may need to be referred to the school's multidisciplinary team...." However, these standards do not go far enough to ensure that teachers are fully prepared to identify and support struggling readers.


Recommendations for Indiana

Ensure that new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
Indiana's standards are commendable regarding informational texts. To further strengthen its policy, however, the state should expand these standards to include literacy skills and use text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts.

Support struggling readers.

Indiana should articulate more specific requirements ensuring that all candidates who teach elementary grades are prepared to intervene and support students who are struggling. The early elementary grades are an especially important time to address reading deficiencies before students fall behind.

State response to our analysis

Indiana cited the state's elementary education pedagogy/developmental standards. Specifically Standard 3, which states:

"Standard 3: Instructional Planning and Delivery Elementary education teachers have a broad and comprehensive understanding of instructional planning and delivery and demonstrate the ability to plan and deliver standards-based, data-driven differentiated instruction that engages students, makes effective use of contemporary tools and technologies, and helps all students achieve learning goals, including:
3.3 procedures for long- and short-range instructional planning (e.g., aligning instruction with the learning progression within identified content standards, determining prerequisite knowledge and skills), factors to consider in instructional planning (e.g., nature of the content; time and other resources available; student assessment data; characteristics of effective lesson and unit plans; students' characteristics, prior experiences, current knowledge and skills, and readiness to learn), and the ability to use this knowledge to plan effective, developmentally appropriate student learning experiences
3.4 knowledge of the characteristics, uses, benefits, and limitations of various instructional approaches appropriate for students at different developmental levels, and the ability to apply research-based best practices to meet a variety of instructional needs, make content comprehensible and relevant to students, and promote students' active involvement in their learning
3.11 the ability to apply skills and strategies for integrating curricula, creating interdisciplinary units of study, and providing students with developmentally appropriate opportunities to explore content from integrated and varied perspectives; use higher-order thinking and creativity; solve problems; acquire, organize, analyze, and synthesize information; and work cooperatively and productively in group settings to accomplish goals for student achievement. 

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

2C: Teaching Elementary Reading

  • Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: The state should require all elementary teacher candidates to pass a rigorous elementary test of scientifically based reading instruction in order to attain licensure. The design of the test should ensure that prospective teachers cannot pass without knowing the five scientifically based components of early reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The state should require that all teacher preparation programs prepare elementary candidates in the science of reading instruction.
  • College- and Career-Readiness Standards: The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction in all subject areas. Specifically,
    • The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate informational texts of increasing complexity into instruction.
    • The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
    • The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers are prepared to identify and support struggling readers.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction
Three-quarters of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it requires all new elementary teachers to pass a rigorous test of scientifically based reading instruction. The design of the test must ensure that all prospective teachers are competent in the five research-based components of early reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. A stand-alone English/Language Arts (ELA) content test must be primarily focused on scientifically based reading instruction to earn credit.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if elementary teacher preparation standards address the five components of scientifically based reading instruction, but the state does not require an adequate - or any - scientifically based reading instruction test.
College- and Career-Readiness Standards
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn the one-quarter of a point if its elementary teacher preparation tests or standards address the requirements of college- and career-readiness standards. To earn credit, the state must have at least one requirement (outlined in component three) "fully addressed" and two "partially addressed."

Research rationale

Teaching children to read is the most important task teachers undertake. Over the past 60 years, scientists from many fields have worked to determine how people learn to read and why some struggle. This science of reading has led to breakthroughs that can dramatically reduce the number of children destined to become functionally illiterate or barely literate adults, identifying five components of effective instruction. In fact, most reading failure can be avoided by routinely applying the lessons learned from the scientific findings in the classroom. Estimates indicate that the current failure rate of 20 to 30 percent could be reduced to 2 to 10 percent.[1]

Scientific research has shown that there are five essential components of effective reading instruction: explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.[2] Many states' policies still do not reflect the strong research consensus in reading instruction that has emerged over the last few decades. Many teacher preparation programs resist teaching scientifically-based reading instruction. Reports by NCTQ on teacher preparation, beginning with What Education Schools Aren't Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning in 2006 and continuing through the Teacher Prep Review in 2016 have consistently found the overwhelming majority of teacher preparation programs across the country do not train teachers in the science of reading, although the most recent Teacher Prep Review did find signs of improvement.[3] Whether through standards or coursework requirements, states must direct programs to provide this critical training. But relying on programs alone is insufficient; states must only grant licenses to new elementary teachers who can demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills to teach children to read.

Most current reading tests do not offer assurance that teachers know the science of reading. A growing number of states, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Virginia, require strong, stand-alone assessments entirely focused on the science of reading.[4] Other states rely on either pedagogy tests or content tests that include items on reading instruction. However, since reading instruction is addressed only in one small part of most of these tests, it is often not necessary to know the science of reading to pass.[5] States need to make sure that a teacher candidate cannot pass a test that purportedly covers reading instruction without knowing the critical material.

College- and career-readiness standards require significant shifts in literacy instruction. College- and career-readiness standards for K-12 students adopted by nearly all states require from teachers a different focus on literacy integrated into all subject areas. The standards demand that teachers are prepared to bring complex text and academic language into regular use, emphasize the use of evidence from informational and literary texts and build knowledge and vocabulary through content-rich text. While most states have not ignored teachers' need for training and professional development related to these instructional shifts, few states have attended to the parallel need to align teacher competencies and requirements for teacher preparation so that new teachers will enter the classroom ready to help students meet the expectations of these standards.[6]

[1] Walsh, K., Glaser, D., & Wilcox, D. D. (2006). What education schools aren't teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren't learning. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf; Torgesen, J.K. (2005, November). Preventing reading disabilities in young children: Requirements at the classroom and school level. Presented at the Western North Carolina LD/ADD Symposium. Retrieved from http://www.fcrr.org/science/pdf/torgesen/NC-interventions.pdf
[2] National Reading Panel (US), National Institute of Child Health, & Human Development (US). (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/nrp/Documents/report.pdf; To review further indications of the affirmation of the previously-mentioned research, see: Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., ... & Keating, B. (2016). Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade: Educator's practice guide (NCEE 2016-4008). National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/PracticeGuide/wwc_foundationalreading_040717.pdf
[3] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2016, December). Landscapes in teacher prep: Undergraduate elementary. National Council on Teacher Quality's Teacher Prep Review. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/UE_2016_Landscape_653385_656245; To review past TPR materials on teacher prep programs: Walsh, K., Glaser, D., & Wilcox, D. D. (2006). What education schools aren't teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren't learning. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf
[4] For problems with many existing reading tests, see: Stotsky, S. (2006). Why American students do not learn to read very well: The unintended consequences of Title II and teacher testing. Third Education Group Review, 2(2), 1-37.; Rigden, D. (2006). Report on licensure alignment with the essential components of effective reading instruction. National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Reading First Teacher Education Network.
[5] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/nctq_eseaReauthorization.pdf
[6] Student Achievement Partners. (2015). Research supporting the Common Core ELA/literacy shifts and standards. Retrieved from https://achievethecore.org/content/upload/Research%20Supporting%20the%20ELA%20Standards%20and%20Shifts%20Final.pdf