Student Teaching: The Make or Break of Teacher Prep


NCTQ Student Teaching cover imageThe latest in a series of reports on U.S.
teacher-prep programs, this study from the National Council on Teacher Quality
dives into the murky waters of the “student-teaching” experience. This is widely
held to be the single most formative aspect of a preparation program, and often
a teacher candidate’s first real foray into the classroom. NCTQ examined the
protocols of 134 undergraduate institutions to determine which adhere to
student-teaching best practices—and which barely adhere to any practices at
all. NCTQ analyzed the length of the student-teaching experience (it should
last at least ten weeks, they say); the selection of the cooperating teacher
(they should be chosen by the prep program, not the school or district); and
the qualifications of cooperating teachers (they should have at least three
years of experience, as well as demonstrated classroom effectiveness and
mentoring ability). The findings? While all programs articulate basic student-teaching
protocols, most fail to ensure the quality of the experience. For example, only
38 percent require that the cooperating teacher possess the qualities of a good
mentor, while just 28 percent require that they be effective instructors as designated
by schools’ principals. Institutions also neglect to provide guidance and
feedback to student-teachers throughout their assignment, reducing the
experience to merely a rite of passage—an expensive one at that. And the places
that do maintain these requirements on paper rarely enforce them in practice. Ultimately,
only 7 percent of institutions boast model programs. The analysis is worth a
detailed read—both for its overall findings and for its ratings of individual

Julie Greenberg, Laura Pomerance, and Kate Walsh,
Teaching: The Make or Break of Teacher Prep
,” (Washington, D.C.: National
Council on Teacher Quality, July 2011).