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States Aim to Improve Teacher Mastery of Reading Fundamentals


By guest blogger Catherine Gewertz

This item originally appeared on the Curriculum Matters blog.

lot has been written about the importance of reading proficiently by 3rd grade. We've heard the familiar debates about whether it's sound practice to retain students who don't meet that mark. But now some states are taking another approach toward 3rd grade reading proficiency: one that focuses on the teacher rather than the student.

A new report from the Education Commission of the States details the work of 14 states that are requiring teachers to demonstrate mastery of reading instruction before they are licensed.

"This is a shift in focus," ECS says in a statement released with the new findings. "Typically, states have concentrated on the student rather than the teacher by pursuing policies that identify struggling readers for special instruction."

Here's a link to the report, "Trends in Teacher Certification: Equipping Teachers To Prepare Proficient Readers." My colleague Stephen Sawchuk also did a nice story a few years ago on the emergence of these standalone reading tests for aspiring teachers.

An ECS report from last month examined the 3rd grade reading policies of states across the country.

The newest report shows what's different about this new wave of state policies. Their target is new teachers, rather than those who've been teaching awhile. They require all teachers of young children—not just reading specialists—to show mastery of teaching reading. And they do it with a special test for that purpose, rather than through a subset of items within a larger teacher certification exam.

Photo: Paige McArdle, 8, left, leans back into a bean bag chair as she reads "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" while classmate Abby Latchana, 7, reads nearby at Hill Elementary School in Davison, Mich., last October.

--Jake May/The Flint Journal/AP

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