Lessons on Teacher Preparation

edreformnowlogoA group of leading teacher preparation program providers – Deans for Impact – released a set of policy recommendations calling for outcomes-based accountability and data-informed improvement in teacher preparation.

Their recommendations are consistent with the following findings:

  1. Teacher preparation programs are disconnected from local labor market needs.

There is no incentive for teacher education programs to slow the overproduction of elementary school teachers and speed the underproduction of secondary school math teachers even though it’s the latter where teacher preparation programs have shown their greatest value-add in terms of classroom teacher impact on student achievement.

  1. There is no specific teacher preparation program input measure that accounts for more than a small percentage of teacher effectiveness as measured by associated elementary and secondary school student achievement scores.
  1. The results of state teacher preparation program accountability systems are highly dependent on the statistical model used to evaluate value-added effectiveness.
  1. The best hope for teacher preparation program improvement lay with those able to replicate most closely the first-year teaching experience with quality mentors and limited class size responsibility (i.e. a program rooted in quality clinical experience).

The single greatest predictor of future teacher effectiveness by a factor of seven is initial year effectiveness, as reflected by value-added measurement.

  1. Even though low-performing teachers improve markedly after year one in the classroom, the average low-performing teacher, measured by year one results, never catches up in effectiveness – in years two, three, or four – to the level of effectiveness of a median first-year teacher (see chart below).

Data Set












Teacher preparation programs that consistently produce low-performing teachers year one in the classroom do a disservice initially and over time to elementary and secondary school students.

The good news is more and more education groups are coalescing behind the idea that data on teacher candidate placement and performance in K-12 classrooms can spur improvement in training programs.

Deans for Impact‘s policy recommendations are as follows:

Policy needs to provide actionable data, as well as support and tools for program improvement, to help those at the front line of our education system succeed.

To that end, we should:

  1. Improve data access through policies that provide educator-preparation programs with information on the performance of their graduates.
  1. Develop a new outcomes-focused state-level certification process that recognizes programs that voluntarily agree to prepare educators who are demonstrably effective.

To read more, see Education Reform Now: Five Lessons on Teacher Preparation.