Ready to Teach, Ready to Read: Certifying Teachers to Prepare Proficient Readers

Reading proficiently by third grade is an essential step in keeping students on track to graduate high school and move on successfully to college or the workforce.

Additionally, reading is the only subject for which a student can be retained. To ensure new teachers are prepared to guide students to reading proficiency, several states are requiring teacher candidates to pass a stand-alone reading instruction test before being licensed.

A new report from ECS, a partner to the Alliance for Early Success, provides an overview of this education trend including a quick look at state requirements on certifying teachers in reading instruction. The report, Trends in Teacher Certification: Equipping Teachers to Prepare Proficient Readers, found that 14 states now have requirements to assess and certify teachers in reading instruction.

Traditionally, states have concentrated on the student rather than the teacher by pursuing policies that identify struggling readers for special instruction. However, teachers are the most important school-based factor in student success. By asking teachers to demonstrate they have the skills to effectively teach reading, states hope to ensure there is a competent reading specialist in every classroom.

These stand-alone state assessments of early childhood and elementary teacher candidates address the science of reading instruction. Current state efforts to improve reading instruction may include requiring candidates to pass a reading subpart on licensure exams, requiring pre-licensure reading instruction courses, and professional development opportunities.

According to the report, fourteen states now require teacher candidates to demonstrate reading instruction proficiency, including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Julie Rowland
Researcher, Information Clearinghouse
Education Commission of the States
(January 22, 2015)