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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Do teachers learn how to teach reading? 19 states are 'weak' or worse

There will be no reading "miracles" without effective teachers, warns the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) in a new report. States must focus on preparing and training teachers to use research-based teaching strategies and on adopting high-quality reading curricula.

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Nearly 40 percent of fourth graders can't read well, says the report. "These students may not be able to identify details from a text, sequence events from a story, and — in some cases — may not be able to read the words themselves." Yet, with better early literacy instruction, more than 90 percent of students would be competent readers.

Nineteen states have few or no policies to ensure teachers are prepared to teach reading, and 26 states don't provide guidelines to teacher-prep programs, according to the report.

States spend roughly over a billion dollars on reading curricula, yet only nine states require districts to select a high-quality reading curriculum. In fact, some of the most popular reading curricula being used by districts are not aligned with 50 years of research that shows how kids best learn to read.

A majority of states require and fund training in the science of reading for elementary teachers, the report found. However, in states that don't require it, more than half a million teachers may receive no training.

NCTQ reports that "dozens of states use licensure tests with little or no content related to the 'science of reading,' the extensive body of research into how people understand written language," writes Kevin Mahnken on The 74.

California's test of reading knowledge gets high marks from NCTQ -- but it's about to be retired, reports Diana Lambert on EdSource. The Reading Instruction Competence Assessment, or RICA, will be replaced by "a literacy performance assessment that allows teachers to demonstrate their competence by submitting evidence of their instructional practice through video clips and written reflections on their practice."

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