A report by the International Literacy Association has found that only 18 states require prospective elementary school teachers to complete specific courses related to literacy education.
The report, "Preliminary Report on Teacher Preparation for Literacy Instruction," is the first of a two-part report written by the association's Teacher Preparation Task Force, which takes a deeper look into the training that teachers in the United States receive and any requirements set forth by state departments of education.
While the results are considered to be preliminary and the task force is currently taking their investigation of the situation a step further, the report did note that teachers are not required to participate in much coursework or practicum work prior to their time in an actual classroom.
"Surprisingly, our analysis showed only 18 states require specific courses in literacy for elementary teacher candidates, and half the states did not require specific coursework in any of the licensure areas," said Angela Rutherford, associate professor at the University of Mississippi and a member of the task force, in a prepared statement. "Further, there do not appear to be any requirements for literacy experiences during student teaching or other required practica."
In order to determine the results of the report, the task force looked at requirements listed by all 50 state departments of education on their respective websites between July and October 2014. In addition, interviews were conducted with department of education leaders from 23 states to verify the information obtained and to ask their opinions pertaining to the information gathered from the sites, writes Leila Meyer for The Journal.
The task force determined four recommendations from their findings. First, they found a need to conduct and share more research pertaining to literacy teacher preparation programs. They then suggested that such programs should be research-based, and that state guidelines for the programs should offer clear explanations of their requirements.
Lastly, the report suggested that preservice teachers should be required to participate in literacy education programs at some point in their training.
"Our primary takeaway is that all stakeholders need to be involved in the conversation about how to improve preparation of preservice teachers to design and implement instruction that increases the literacy learning of children in kindergarten through grade 12," said Swaggerty in a prepared statement. "We hope this initial report is a starting point for that conversation."
Part two of the report will contain interviews with officials, administrators and professors from education programs across all 50 states. The hope is to determine how the guidelines from the initial report are being implemented.