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February 19, 2003 | Volume 1 | Number 4
Research-Based Characteristics of High-Quality Teacher Preparation
What does the research base tell us about the characteristics of high quality teacher preparation?
Two paths to development of high-quality teachers have recently emerged in policy debates at both the federal and state levels. One path assumes a “trade” model for teacher preparation. This model assumes future teachers will receive in-depth training in their subject matter prior to teaching, and the majority of their training in how to teach will be in-class, or on-the-job training. Another path emphasizes the professional body of knowledge related to teaching, and includes pre-service instruction in both the science of teaching, and subject matter. Traditionally, states have emphasized the professional path to teaching, requiring significant pre-service training for future teachers in the state certification requirements; however, most states now also offer alternate paths to the classroom that emphasize on-the-job training.
This study organized and synthesized the current body of research related to teacher preparation. Unlike previous reviews, the analysis controlled for the quality and recency of the research. Out of more than 300 initial references, 57 studies were ultimately judged to be of sufficient timeliness, scientific rigor and appropriate focus to be used in the synthesis (view the study requirements). The authors concluded that previous research generally finds that:
The researchers limited analysis to peer-reviewed studies published in scientific journals within the last twenty years. The research selected for analysis had to be empirical (offering evidence to support the conclusions, rather than relying on opinion or theory) and meet specific standards within the generally accepted research traditions. The research also had to address five central questions specific to this study:
Future teachers, and the entities that prepare them.
While this study deals with “teacher preparation,” it is important to note that there is no longer only one model, or even a “traditional” model of teacher education. Programs vary from four-year B.A. programs, to five-year masters programs, fifth year certification programs, and alternate route internships. Universities, schools districts, non-profit and for-profit entities are all involved in teacher preparation. While 57 studies were ultimately reviewed, the body of research on teacher preparation remains limited. Although these findings may point in specific directions, more research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.
While program formats vary considerably, subject matter preparation, instruction in pedagogical knowledge, and the clinical experience are all important aspects of successful teacher preparation. Additional research is needed to determine the specific content components and program formats that have the greatest affect on teaching practice and student achievement.
Wilson, S., Floden, R., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001). Teacher Preparation Research: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Recommendations. Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy: A University of Washington, Stanford University, University of Michigan, and University of Pennsylvania consortium. Available: http://depts.washington.edu/ctpmail/PDFs/TeacherPrep-WFFM-02-2001.pdf
Cochran-Smith, M., & Fries, M. K. (2001). Sticks, Stones, and Ideology: The Discourse of Reform in Teacher Education. Educational Researcher, 30(8), 3–15. Available: http://www.aera.net/pubs/er/pdf/vol30_08/AERA300803.pdf
Darling-Hammond, L. & Youngs, P. (2002). Defining “Highly Qualified Teachers”: What Does “Scientifically-Based Research” Actually Tell Us? Educational Researcher, 31(9), 13–25. Available: http://www.aera.net/pubs/er/pdf/vol31_09/AERA310903.pdf
Education Commission of the States (2000). Two Paths to Quality Teaching: Implications for Policymakers. Denver, CO: Author. Available: http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/12/92/1292.htm
Pratte R., and Rury, J. L. (1991). Teachers, Professionalism, and Craft. Teachers College Record Volume 93(1), 59-72. Available: http://www.tcrecord.org/PdfRedirect.asp?ContentID=255 (Requires free registration)
Walsh, K. (2001). Teacher Certification Reconsidered: Stumbling for Quality. Baltimore, MD: Abell Foundation. Available: http://www.abell.org/pubsitems/ed_cert_1101.pdf
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) – www.aacte.org
Center for Educational Renewal – depts.washington.edu/cedren/CER.htm
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy (CTP) – depts.washington.edu/ctpmail/
Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) – www.gse.upenn.edu/cpre/
Education Commission of the States (ECS) – www.ecs.org
Milken Family Foundation – www.mff.org
National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) – www.nctaf.org
National Council on Teaching Quality – www.nctq.org
The Holmes Partnership – www.holmespartnership.org
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation – www.edexcellence.net
WestEd – www.wested.org
____________All comments regarding ReseachBrief should be sent to RBfeedback@ascd.org. To speak directly with an ASCD staff member, please Contact Us.
Dan Laitsch serves as ASCD's consultant editor for ResearchBrief. Laitsch is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and is coeditor of the International Journal for Education Policy and Leadership.
Copyright © 2003 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
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