New Report: Surveying the Landscape of Teacher Education

Posted by on April 6, 2009

The elusive search for the right teacher prep

In the third part of its series “What Makes A Teacher Good?” The Christian Science Monitor looks at the larger question of teacher prep by way of a July 2008 study led by Stanford University researchers. The report examines methods for teacher preparation: traditional teacher-college programs, Teach for America, New York City’s Teaching Fellows program, and teachers on a temporary license. The study finds student achievement greatest when a teacher is certified, has graduated from a university program, has a strong academic background, and has been teaching more than two years. Not surprisingly, student achievement is hurt by inexperienced teachers on temporary license, more likely in high-poverty schools. Other boons: classroom work that provides meaningful experiences and has good oversight; teacher opportunity to study local curricula; substantial university coursework in subjects an educator will be teaching; and study of learning practices that can be applied based on classroom needs. The main distinction drawn by lead researcher Pam Grossman concerned trainee pool: “Teach for America does minimal preparation, but they bank on selection. Traditional programs are not particularly selective, but they bank on preparation.” Still, Grossman was struck by how similar both methods are. “There’s no program that’s fundamentally reimagined what teacher training can look like,” she noted.

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