Photo: WeAreTeachers.com

Teacher preparation programs are not producing much-needed quality teachers in vital areas such as reading education for budding school teachers.

Over two decades ago, the National Institutes of Health declared a high failure to read among Americans a “public health crisis.” Many years later, it appears that teacher preparation programs are not producing teachers that can teach others to become successful readers.

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality’s (NCTQ) new report, many states are failing to maintain the necessary requirements regarding elementary and special education teachers’ knowledge of reading instruction.

NCTQ found that 40 states still either do not have sufficient licensing tests in place for both of these groups of teachers, or have no test at all. A handful of states have adequate tests in place for elementary teacher candidates, but not special education teacher candidates; a perplexing stance has given that 80 percent of all students are assigned to special education because of their struggle to read.

“The failure of such a high percentage of our children to learn how to read is tragically unnecessary,” says Kate Walsh, NCTQ President. “We’ve known for decades what needs to change. Educational trends and priorities ebb and flow. Our responsibility to children should not.”

To help remedy such deficits in teacher education programs, states may need to use strong tests backed up by annual reviews of how successful programs are preparing their candidates to pass this test, according to President of NCTQ Kate Walsh.

So how did Georgia fair in NCTQ’s analysis of teacher preparation to teach students how to read in the elementary and special education areas? 

NCTQ asked two questions when reviewing the state’s testing criteria to certify teachers for reading instruction in elementary and special education areas.

  • Does the state require sufficient test on the science of reading for elementary teachers? 
    • GEORGIA – Georgia’s Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) Early Childhood Education Assessment assesses the science of reading, but integrates this topic with too many other topics related to English Language Arts, as well as at least one other core subject, to serve as a reliable measure of a candidate’s knowledge of the science of reading. A stand-alone test is needed.
  • Does this state require a sufficient test on the science of reading for elementary special education teachers? 
    • GEORGIA – Georgia’s GACE Early Childhood Special Education General Curriculum test assesses the science of reading, but integrates this topic with too many other topics related to English Language Arts as well as at least one other core subject to serve as a reliable measure of a candidate’s knowledge of the science of reading. A stand-alone test is needed. Additionally, only candidates applying for the PreK-5 special education license have to pass this test. PreK-12 candidates are not required to pass this test. 

According to NCTQ, Georgia is among the 20 states with either an insufficient or no reading test that has standards requiring programs to teach the science of reading.

The NCTQ also finds considerable evidence that over half of all programs
in Georgia do not adhere to these standards. NCTQ maintains that the standards alone have proven insufficient to ensure that these new teachers are prepared to teach the science of reading, generally because they are hard to enforce and a majority of the teacher preparation programs do not meet the standards.

To review program adherence to standards in your state, see here in the chart below.

Georgia Colleges & Universities included in NCTQ’s report – 

University/College Program Early Reading Score
Albany State University Undergrad Elementary F
Armstrong State Univ Undergrad Elementary B
Armstrong State Univ Undergrad Special Ed. F
Augusta University Undergrad Elementary A
Augusta University Graduate Elementary F
Brenau University Undergrad Elementary PASS
Brewton–Parker College Undergrad Elementary PASS
Clark Atlanta University Undergrad Elementary C
Columbus State Univ Undergrad Elementary B
Covenant College Undergrad Elementary PASS
Dalton State College Undergrad Elementary F
Emanuel College Undergrad Elementary PASS
Georgia State College & Univ. Undergrad Elementary B
Georgia Southern Univ. Undergrad Elementary D
Georgia Southern Univ. Undergrad Special Ed. D
Georgia Southwestern State Univ Undergrad Elementary D
Georgia State University Undergrad Elementary F
Georgia State University Graduate Elementary A
Kennesaw State University Graduate Specia Ed PASS
Mercer University Undergrad Elementary PASS
Mercer University Graduate Elementary PASS
Mercer University Undergrad Special Ed. PASS
Middle Georgia State Univ. Undergrad Elementary A
Piedmont College Undergrad Elementary F
Reinhardt University Undergrad Elementary FAIL
Shorter University Undergrad Elementary B
Thomas University Undergrad Elementary D
Toccoa Falls College Undergrad Elementary FAIL
University of Georgia Undergrad Elementary F
University of Georgia Graduate Elementary B
University of North Georgia (Gainesville) Undergrad Elementary F
University of West GA Undergrad Elementary A
University of West GA Undergrad Special Ed F
Valdosta State University Undergrad Elementary FAIL
Valdosta State University Graduate Special Ed. D
Wesleyan College Undergrad Elementary PASS

 

So what can states do to help their colleges of education to prepare better future teachers on how to teach successful readers?

  • All states should require elementary and special education teacher candidates to pass a rigorous test in reading knowledge that is aligned with the scientific findings of how to produce the highest numbers of successful readers.
  • When states adopt an assessment serving multiple purposes–that is, one that tests knowledge of other subjects alongside reading knowledge, it must report a separate subscore on a candidate’s reading knowledge.
  • States should increase transparency by reviewing their teacher preparation programs and making information reflecting programs’ success in preparing candidates available to the public.
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