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National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance


Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Study of Teacher Preparation in Early Reading Instruction

Contractor: Optimal Solutions Group, AIR

Background/Research Questions:

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 created the Reading First program to help ensure that all students can read at or above grade level by the end of third grade. The program targets low-income, low-performing schools and was funded at $393 million in FY 2008.

Currently, there is no national study that has examined the extent to which new teachers are prepared to teach the essential components of reading instruction promoted by the Reading First program. The Reading First legislation required "a measurement of how well students preparing to enter the teaching profession are prepared to teach the essential components of reading instruction."

This study will examine:

  • To what extent does the content of teacher education programs focus on the essential components of early reading instruction?
  • To what extent are graduating pre-service teachers knowledgeable about the essential components of early reading instruction?

Design:

The study collected information in spring 2007 from a sample of 3,000 pre-service teachers in a nationally representative sample of 100 institutions. The study includes a pre-service teacher survey regarding the content of their training programs as well as an assessment of pre-service teacher knowledge about the essential components of reading instruction.

Cost/Duration: $4,999,643 over 5.5 years (August 2005–February 2011)

Current Status:

The final report was released in September 2010 (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104036/index.asp).

Key Findings:

  • 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.