Licensure Deficiencies: South Carolina

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that new teachers who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license possess sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Meets a small part

Analysis of South Carolina's policies

Content Test Requirements: South Carolina only requires its early childhood education teacher candidates, who are licensed to teach elementary grades through grade 3, to pass the Praxis II Education of Young Children (5024) test, which may assess pedagogy but is not an adequate measure of subject-matter knowledge.

Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: As a condition of initial licensure, South Carolina does not require its early childhood candidates to pass a reading test addressing the five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction. However, South Carolina does require teacher preparation programs for early childhood teacher candidates to address the science of reading. All early childhood teacher candidates are required to complete a twelve-credit-hour sequence in literacy that includes "comprehension, oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, and vocabulary."

Informational Texts: The Education of Young Children test incorporates some of the instructional shifts in the use of text associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students. The test requires that a teacher knows "how to develop children's ability to comprehend literature, informational texts, and other types of texts." Teachers must also know "scaffolding strategies to support children's progress toward independent reading toward the high end of their text complexity band (e.g., providing access to grade level texts, purposeful grouping)." The state's literacy competencies for grades PreK-5 also require teachers to be able to "use knowledge of text complexity and student interests to match books to readers and help students select texts with which they will be successful."

Literacy Skills: With regard to the incorporation of literacy skills in the core content areas, South Carolina's literacy competencies for PreK-5 teachers states; "Connecting inquiry through the integration of Social Studies, Science, and Math, with literacy instruction leads students to build knowledge and emphasizing collaborative learning fosters independence and self-initiation in reading and learning." The state then lists competencies for teachers to meet the standard. The Education of Young Children test also vaguely addresses literacy skills in other core areas by requiring a teacher to know "strategies to integrate literacy into the content areas (e.g., mathematics, social studies, science, and the arts)."

South Carolina also requires that all teacher preparation programs  "ensure that all teacher education candidates possess the knowledge and skills to assist effectively all children in becoming proficient readers," and "prioritize their missions and resources so all early and elementary education teachers have the knowledge and skills to provide effective instruction in reading and numeracy to all students."

Struggling Readers
South Carolina's teacher preparation programs are required to "ensure that all teacher candidates are skilled in diagnosing a child's reading problems and are capable of providing an effective intervention."

Citation

Recommendations for South Carolina

Require early childhood teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all subjects.
South Carolina should require all early childhood education teacher candidates, who are licensed to teach elementary grades, to pass an elementary content test appropriately aligned with its college- and career-readiness standards. South Carolina should require a subject-matter test that includes separate, meaningful passing scores for each core subject, including reading/language arts, math, science and social studies.

Require all teacher candidates who teach elementary grades to pass a rigorous assessment in the science of reading instruction.
South Carolina should require a rigorous reading assessment tool to ensure that its early childhood 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 address all five instructional components of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. If the test is combined with an assessment that also tests general pedagogy or elementary content, it should report a subscore for the science of reading specifically. Early childhood teachers who do not possess the minimum knowledge in this area should not be eligible for licensure.

State response to our analysis

South Carolina stated that the effectiveness of teacher candidates in providing content to learners in clinical practice is assessed through the ADEPT formative and summative evaluation processes.
(For more on the state's work to ensure that its teachers have high-quality clinical practice experiences, please see the student teaching/clinical practice goal 1-E.)

How we graded

2D: Elementary Licensure Deficiencies

  • Adequate Content Knowledge: The state should ensure that all new elementary teacher candidates teaching under an early childhood license possess sufficient elementary content knowledge in all core subjects, including mathematics.
  • Scientifically Based Reading Instruction: The state should ensure that all new elementary teacher candidates teaching under an early childhood license are required to pass a rigorous test of scientifically based reading instruction. 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.
  • College- and Career-Readiness Standards: The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers teaching under an early childhood license are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction in all subject areas. Specifically,
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to incorporate informational texts of increasing complexity into instruction.
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
    • The state should ensure that these early childhood education teachers are prepared to identify and support struggling readers.
Adequate Content Knowledge
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it requires early childhood teachers to pass the same individually scored content tests as elementary teachers.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires early childhood teachers to pass the same content tests as elementary teachers, but the content tests are not individually scored.
Scientifically Based Reading Instruction
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires all new early childhood 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.
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 one-quarter of a point if its elementary teacher preparation tests or standards address the three components of college- and career-readiness standards. To earn credit, states must have at least one component "fully addressed" and two "partially addressed."

Research rationale

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.[1] 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,[2] states would put students at risk by not holding all elementary teachers to equivalent standards.[3] 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.[4] 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.


[1] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2016, June). Some assembly required: Piecing together the preparation preschool teachers need. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Preschool
[2] 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
[3] Numerous research studies have established the strong relationship between teachers' vocabulary (a proxy for being broadly educated) and student achievement. For example: Wayne, A. J., & Youngs, P. (2003). Teacher characteristics and student achievement gains: A review. Review of Educational Research, 73(1), 89-122.; See also: Whitehurst, G. J. (2002, March). Scientifically based research on teacher quality: Research on teacher preparation and professional development. In White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teacher.; Ehrenberg, R. G., & Brewer, D. J. (1995). Did teachers' verbal ability and race matter in the 1960s? Coleman revisited. Economics of Education Review, 14(1), 1-21.; Research also connects individual content knowledge with increased reading comprehension, making the capacity of the teacher to infuse all instruction with content of particular importance for student achievement.; Willingham, D. T. (2006). How knowledge helps: It speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning, and thinking. American Educator, 30(1), 30. Retrieved from https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2006/how-knowledge-helps
[4] Torgesen, J.K. (November 2005). Preventing reading disabilities in young children: Requirements at the classroom and school level. Presented at the Western North Carolina LD/ADD Symposium.; 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