Adolescent Literacy: Tennessee

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that new middle school and secondary teachers are fully prepared for the instructional shifts related to literacy associated with college-and career-readiness standards. This goal was reorganized in 2017.

Nearly meets

Analysis of Tennessee's policies

Informational Texts: Tennessee addresses some of the instructional shifts toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through careful reading of informational and literary texts associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students through its required assessment for all middle school teachers. The Praxis Teaching Reading: Elementary Education (5203) test, under the heading "reading comprehension strategies across text types," requires teachers to know "how to select and use a variety of informational, descriptive, and persuasive materials at appropriate reading levels to promote students' comprehension of nonfiction, including content-area texts." This test is not required for secondary teachers.

Literacy Skills: In its standards for middle school teachers, Tennessee requires that candidates "teach reading within the context of every subject area in such manner as to build vocabulary, background knowledge and strong comprehension strategies." Secondary preparation standards do not address the incorporation of literacy skills into the core content areas.

New literacy standards in Tennessee also require middle and secondary candidates to "demonstrate a deep understanding of the essential role literacy plays in equipping students to acquire, comprehend, and communicate content-specific information." Candidates are required to be able to demonstrate an understanding of content specific: "literacy skills and strategies, and how they apply to content-specific instruction and learning for K-12 students," and "academic vocabulary and demonstrate the ability to communicate using vocabulary accurately and effectively."

Citation

Recommendations for Tennessee

Ensure that middle and secondary school teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students.
Incorporate informational text of increasing complexity into classroom instruction.
Either through testing frameworks in tests taken by all middle or secondary teachers regardless of subject area (such as a pedagogy tests) or teacher standards, Tennessee should specifically address the instructional shifts toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through increasingly complex informational texts and careful reading of informational and literary texts associated with the state's college- and career-readiness standards for students.

State response to our analysis

Tennessee was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

How we graded

3C: Adolescent Literary 

The state should ensure that all middle and secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction in all subject areas. Specifically,

  • Middle School Preparation: The state should ensure that all new middle and secondary teachers are prepared to incorporate informational texts of increasing complexity into instruction.
  • Secondary Preparation: The state should ensure that all new middle and secondary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
Middle School Preparation
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 at least one of the two components is "fully addressed" and one is "partially addressed."
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one of the two components is "fully addressed" or two are "partially addressed."
Secondary Preparation
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 at least one of the two components is "fully addressed" and one is "partially addressed."
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if one of the two components is "fully addressed" or two are "partially addressed."

Research rationale

States must ensure that middle school and secondary teacher preparation programs prepare teachers to incorporate complex text into instruction and student practice. These are critical years of schooling when far too many students fall through the cracks.

With that said, college- and career-readiness standards are influencing 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.[1] 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 texts. While most states have not ignored teachers' need for training and professional development related to these instructional shifts, states must also attend 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.


[1] 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