Teaching Reading: New York

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

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 New York's policies

Scientifically Based Reading Instruction—Tests and Standards: All elementary teacher candidates in New York must pass the New York State Teacher Certification Examination (NYSTCE) Multi-Subject:Teachers of Childhood as a condition of initial licensure. This test includes a separately scored English language arts/literacy section. It addresses all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, and it amounts to a stand-alone reading test.  

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. The Multi-Subject: Teachers of Childhood assessment includes the instructional shifts toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through increasingly complex texts and careful reading of informational and literary texts associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students. The test framework addresses "text complexity and instruction in text comprehension" and outlines the following performance indicators:

  • Demonstrates an understanding of how emergent text comprehension relates to comprehension skills that are the focus of instruction in later grades and to essential college- and career-readiness text-comprehension skills
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the role of asking a range of cognitively complex questions that require students to respond using text-based evidence
  • Applies knowledge of quantitative tools and measures for evaluating text complexity. 
It also outlines the following performance indicators relating to "instruction in reading literature and informational text":
  • Demonstrates an understanding of NYCCLS grade-specific standards in reading literature and informational text for grades 1-6 and the relationship of these standards to the development of college and career readiness in reading by the end of grade 12.
  • Applies knowledge of developmentally appropriate, research- and evidence-based assessment and instructional practices to promote students' development of skills for integrating, analyzing and evaluating knowledge and ideas from literary and informational text.
Literacy Skills: The NYSTCE Multi-Subject:Teachers of Childhood test framework requires candidates to demonstrate knowledge of "the role of background knowledge in text comprehension and strategies for planning a content-rich, text-rich classroom environment and for promoting independent reading in a wide range of text types and genres to support text comprehension through the development of academic background knowledge."  However, this standard is not adequate to ensure that teachers include literacy skills across the core content areas.

Struggling Readers: The NYSTCE Multi-Subject:Teachers of Childhood test framework also addresses struggling readers with the following performance indicator: "[S]elects and describes accurately and appropriately effective strategies, activities, or interventions to address a student's identified need ... in reading, writing, listening, speaking, language knowledge and conventions, and/or vocabulary acquisition."

Citation

Recommendations for New York

Ensure that the science of reading test is meaningful.
To ensure that its science of reading test is sufficiently rigorous, New York should evaluate its passing score to make certain it reflects a high standard of performance and that all teachers are well prepared in the science of reading instruction before entering the classroom.

Ensure that new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.

To ensure that elementary students are capable of accessing varied information about the world around them, New York should also—either through testing frameworks or teacher standards—include literacy skills and using text to build content knowledge in history/social studies, science, technical subjects and the arts.

State response to our analysis

New York stated that Teachers of Childhood Education candidates are required to complete at least six semester hours (90 hours of study) in language acquisition and literacy development by native English speakers and students who are English language learners; and in developing the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills of all students. In addition, the state noted that programs must prepare candidates with a knowledge base for assisting students in grades 1-6 in meeting the State student learning standards. The State learning standards include the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. These standards address literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects, and practitioners are expected to address the incorporation of literacy skills across core content areas.

The first paragraph of the Multi-Subject: Teachers of Childhood (grade 1-grade 6) Test Framework explains that the elementary teacher "skillfully applies knowledge of language and literacy development and knowledge of developmentally appropriate, effective materials, instruction, and formal and informal assessment in all aspects of literacy and English language arts to meet the literacy-learning needs of students from grade 1 through grade 6 across the content areas."

In New York State, elementary teachers apply and integrate students' knowledge and literacy skills practiced in one content area and transfer those skills to other content areas where they can be used to build new content and facilitate student learning. Elementary teachers regularly engage students across core content areas to develop students' literacy skills through the use of informational and explanatory texts. The state referenced the following test competencies:

  • Competency 1.2 - Knowledge of English Language Arts Performance Indicators b-e, students learn core content subject-matter throughout the day in "books about history, social studies, science, and the arts; and technical texts." Using a range of content resources, teachers create opportunities to help students use, apply, and transfer literacy skills from one context to others.
  • Competency 2.4 - Text Complexity and Instruction in Text Comprehension Performance Indicators a-g across content areas within a "text-rich classroom environment" inclusive of a "range of text types" used in all core content areas.
New York also cited test competencies from its Educating All Students Test:.
  • Competency 0002 English Language Learners "The New York State educator understands the characteristics, strengths, and needs of English Language Learners and effectively uses this knowledge to assist in developing their language and literacy skills and promoting their achievement of learning standards in all content areas."Performance Indicators g and h for this competency require candidates to apply literacy skills across the content areas for this population.
    • "g. applies knowledge of strategies for supporting English Language Learners' development of content area literacy skills and for teaching English Language Learners how to use literacy skills as tools for learning" 
    • h. applies knowledge of criteria and procedures for evaluating, selecting, creating, and adjusting instructional materials and strategies and assessment systems and practices to meet the learning needs of English Language Learners and to promote their achievement of learning standards in all content areas."

The state also noted that Teachers of Childhood Education candidates must complete the edTPA Elementary Assessment Handbook. But the state was not able to share the descriptions of the tasks and rubrics in the handbook due to copyright and test security reasons. New York suggested reaching out to Pearson and/or SCALE to see how the handbook rubrics address the NCTQ goals around candidates' abilities to incorporate complex texts and academic language into instruction, incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject, and identify and support struggling readers, including how candidates develop students' academic language.

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