Study of Teacher Preparation in Early Reading Instruction

Terry Salinger, Lorin Mueller, Mengli Song, Ying Jin, Courtney Zmach, and Michele Toplitz, AIR
Mark Partridge and Adam Bickford, Optimal Solutions Grou

The final report of a study of teacher preparation in early reading instruction describes pre-service teachers' perceptions about the content of their training programs and summarizes their scores on an assessment of their knowledge of the essential components of reading instruction, as defined in the Reading First legislation.

The pre-service teachers were surveyed and assessed in the spring/summer prior to their graduation. Key findings include:

  • On average, pre-service teachers rated the overall focus on the essential components of reading of their training programs as being above "little" but below "moderate." (1.76 on a 0 to 3 scale).
  • Pre-service teachers were twice as likely to report that their field experience offered them a strong focus on the essential components of reading compared to their coursework (40 percent versus 21 percent).
  • Pre-service teachers were about twice as likely to report a strong overall programmatic focus on alphabetics (40 percent) and fluency (34 percent) than on meaning (18 percent).
  • On average, pre-service teachers responded correctly to 57 percent of the items on the Knowledge Assessment, which included items on fluency, meaning, and alphabetics.

The report, Study of Teacher Preparation in Early Reading Instruction, uses data collected from 2,237 pre-service teachers in a nationally representative sample of 99 institutions that prepare teacher for initial certification.

The pre-service teachers were sampled from all students in the sampled institutions who would be eligible to graduate with an elementary teacher education certificate in spring or summer 2007. Pre-service teachers' perceptions of program focus were measured through a survey administered in the spring and summer of 2007. Pre-service teachers' knowledge of the essential components of reading instruction was assessed in spring and summer of 2007, using an assessment consisting of multiple-choice items about the essential components, especially as they are taught in kindergarten to grade 3.