Chapter 49 Background
The State Board of Education plays a crucial role in promulgating the regulations that govern Pennsylvania’s educational policies and program standards. Currently, the State Board is updating and holding hearings on Chapter 49 Certification of Professional Personnel. These regulations and guidelines provide the Department of Education, Bureau of Higher & Career Education with a framework for teacher certification, which dictates how Pennsylvania colleges of education prepare classroom teachers.
The reading education requirements in Chapter 49 have not been implemented in a consistent and focused manner. Instead the state has allowed future teachers to take courses which may touch on key reading issues, but not focus on them specifically. This needs to change, if Pennsylvania reading education is going to be improved.
In September 2018 the Learning Policy Institute report prepared for the PA Department of Education had the following recommendations:
Recommendation #1: Improve Clinical Training Improve and extend clinical training experiences so that teachers practice and refine clinical skills by demonstrating improved results for student reading performance.
Recommendation #2: Refine Preparation Standards Refine preparation program standards so that teachers do not come out of programs without the knowledge and clinical skills to improve reading results.
Recommendation #3: Address Shortages Address teacher shortages in specific content areas and geographic locations so that teachers have the skills to implement reading science.
Recommendation #4: Revise Testing Requirements so that the knowledge of reading science is addressed.
Recommendation #5: Use Data to Guide Improvement so that student reading proficiency has improved in the state assessment.
Recommendation #6: Support Beginning Teacher Induction so that results in reading performance are addressed.
Therefore, DLN will be asking for the following changes to Chapter 49:
Pre-service teacher programs: Require 9 hours of course work that cannot be relaxed or combined into general competencies
Two 3-credit hour courses: one focused on k-2 and the other focused on grades 3-4, that stand alone, in scientifically-researched and evidence-based reading instructional strategies that improve reading performance for all students, including in the use of explicit, systematic, and sequential approaches to reading instruction, developing phonemic awareness, and implementing multisensory/structured literacy intervention strategies.
One, 3-credit courses in the assessment of reading skills in children K through grade 6 based on evidenced based screening and assessment procedures in the area of literacy to include: oral language development, phonemic awareness, phonics-word study, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
In-service teacher programs: Require 2 college credits or equivalent in-service hours
Minimum of two college credits or the equivalent in-service hours in the use of explicit, systematic, and sequential approaches to reading instruction, developing phonemic awareness, and implementing multisensory intervention/structured literacy strategies is required for renewal of a professional certificate in any area of certification that includes reading instruction or intervention for any students in kindergarten through grade 6, including elementary, middle, special education, and ESL teachers, speech/language clinicians/pathologists, reading specialist and reading coach with a beginning validity date of July 1, 2020, or thereafter. Such training may be provided by teacher preparation programs or Act 48 approved providers as part of the professional development plan.
Please join us and testify or submit testimony in support of this effort to provide better training for our teachers! The teachers and students deserve better!
The final hearing is June 14, 2019, 10am to 12:30pm
Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3
Sullivan Room 475 E. Waterfront Drive, Homestead, PA 15120.
Update 7/9/20: Yesterday, the PA State Board of Education, Committee for Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness voted unanimously to include the definition of Structured Literacy into Chapter 49. (see link here). While this is a step in the right direction, they did not include all of our recommendations regarding needed credit hours and content. These proposed changes will now head to the Governor, State House, and Senate Education Committees and the IRRC(Independent Regulatory Review Commission) for review. It will then return to the State Board for final approval. There will be opportunities for public comment during this long process. Please stay up to date by following us on Twitter @DLN_Dyslexia or @DandLNetwork on Facebook!
Update 7/2/20: In June of 2019, several of us testified in front of the Committee for Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness Committee requesting better teacher training in the Science of Reading in teacher prep programs. On July 8th, 2020, the committee will be offering their recommendations for changes to Chapter 49, and the recommendations will be presented to the entire State Board for final approval. Please join the meeting via Zoom and offer comment!
See the Agenda and Call-in instructions here.
Click here for more information on the Science of Reading and the Research to support our proposed changes.
Reading in Pennsylvania:
Close 60% of Pennsylvania 4th graders scored at Basic or Below Basic in Reading on the 2017 NEAP(National Assessment of Educational Progress).
Scoring Below Basic/Basic on the PSSA means a student failed.