On Deck: Preparing the Next Generation of Teachers

A new report from the Hope Street Group examines the quality of states’ teacher preparation programs.

The authors, all teachers themselves, conducted in-person focus groups and administered online surveys over six weeks between September and October 2015. Their sample included 1,988 certified educators in forty-nine states and the District of Columbia whose teaching experience ranged from one to thirty-one years across all grades and subjects. Authors conducted qualitative and content analysis to identify, categorize, and present reoccurring themes from the teacher’s responses.

Respondents were asked the same questions: If your state was going to evaluate teacher preparation programs, which measures should be included? Did your preparation program offer any specific courses related to serving in areas of high-need or persistently low-achieving populations? As you reflect on your teacher preparation experiences, what do you wish you’d had more of in terms of pedagogy? How have new college- and career-ready standards changed your instructional practices? And what would you change about teacher preparation for the next generation of teachers?

Over half the teachers reported lacking instruction about serving high-needs or persistently low-achieving populations; they also noted that their only exposure to college- and career-ready standards came through on-the-job experiences or in-service professional development, rather than pre-service training. And many lacked preparation in areas as common as classroom and behavior management, hands-on experiences, differentiated instruction, and child and adolescent development.

The findings add to a large body of research highlighting the need to upgrade teacher preparation to better reflect educators’ on-the-job needs. To move the needle in the right direction, the authors counsel that teacher preparation programs adopt common curricula. Further, they call on the federal government to institute funding mechanisms that incentivize collaboration between schools of education and local districts. Finally, they recommend using teacher retention data as an essential metric in pre-service program evaluation, as well as job placement data, graduation rates, educator effectiveness (student growth, observations, etc.), college pre-service coursework, opportunities for hands-on teaching, and feedback from teachers’ pre-service experiences.

SOURCE: “On Deck: Preparing the Next Generation of Teachers,” Hope Street Group (March 2016).

Andrew Scanlan
Andrew Scanlan is a Research and Policy Associate at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.