States Should Adopt Stand-Alone Teacher Licensure Test in Reading Linked to Common Core
Passing the test should be a requirement for all early education and elementary school teachers, most special education teachers
BOSTON – States that have adopted the Common Core English language arts standards should require prospective elementary school teachers to pass a stand-alone licensure test in reading, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.
Licensure tests ensure that new teachers possess the basic content knowledge needed for professional practice.
“There are two major reasons for licensure tests,” said Sandra Stotsky, author of “How to Address Common Core’s Reading Standards: Licensure Tests for K-6 Teachers.” “One is to protect the public and the other is to hold teacher training programs accountable for the initial content knowledge of those who complete their programs.”
Stotsky finds that stand-alone licensure tests in reading are particularly important because most education schools don’t offer the reading methods courses teachers should have before beginning their careers. Multi-subject tests are insufficient because prospective teachers can pass even if they do poorly in the reading section.
Stotsky recommends that the reading licensure tests should contain no fewer than 90 items and include at least one open response or constructed response question. The test should also make a clear distinction between the skills needed for imaginative/literary texts and those required for informational/expository texts to address the way Common Core divides up its reading standards.
She proposes that prospective early education and elementary school teachers, as well as most special education teachers, be required to pass the test.
A more advanced test should be required for reading specialists who work one-on-one with struggling readers and are more like specialized clinicians. Licensure tests for reading specialists should require that they have sufficient knowledge of available diagnostic tests and a firm grounding in the neurological aspects of reading.
Sandra Stotsky is professor of education emerita at the University of Arkansas. From 1999 to 2003 she was senior associate commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she was in charge of developing or revising all the commonwealth’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure tests and teacher and administrator licensure regulations.
Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.