Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Does the Match Matter? Exploring Whether Student Teaching Experiences Affect Teacher Career Paths and Effectiveness

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 2:25 PM
Flamingo (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington, John Krieg, Western Washington University and Roddy Theobald, Center for Education Data and Research
It is well documented that teacher quality plays an integral role in student educational outcomes. However, a large body of literature attempting to connect various teacher attributes to student achievement has failed to generate a concrete agenda for upgrading the skill set of America’s teachers. It has been clear for some time, for example, that teacher quality is only weakly related to readily quantifiable teacher attributes like licensure status, degree, and experience levels (Goldhaber, 2002; Hanushek, 1986; Rivkin et al. 2005); and the empirical evidence on the teacher productivity benefits of policies designed to affect inservice teachers, such as pay for performance (Glazerman and Seifullah, 2010; Goldhaber and Walch, 2012; Springer et al., 2010) and professional development (Cohen et al., 2011; Hill, 2000; Jacob and Lefgren, 2004) is mixed at best.

But this focus on inservice interventions ignores the fact that the vast majority of our country’s investment in teacher training occurs before teachers enter the classroom. Student teaching experiences, in particular, are thought to have a powerful influence on a teacher’s later success (Levine, 2006; NCATE, 2010; Wilson et al., 2001). The theory of action connecting student teaching to in-service effectiveness is simple: for most prospective teachers, the student teaching requirement is the single experience they will have with an actual classroom before the management and learning of students becomes their primary responsibility. This is reflected in a recent report by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education that identifies the collaboration between student teachers, mentor teachers, and the training university as the most important aspect of a highly effective clinical program.

Unfortunately, there is shockingly little empirical evidence linking any aspect of the preservice training of teachers to outcomes for inservice teachers. While a few notable studies (e.g., Boyd et al., 2009; Harris and Sass, 2011; Ronfeldt, 2012) have relied on retrospective survey data of teachers and their training experiences, no studies have been able to investigate workforce outcomes for all individuals trained to be teachers within individual Teacher Education Programs (TEPs).

We address this gap in the literature by connecting comprehensive information on student teachers and their cooperating teachers from six Washington State TEPs to administrative data from Washington State to investigate the relationship between a teacher’s student-teaching experiences, eventual career path, and effectiveness. Preliminary results suggest that teachers who did their student teaching at schools with less teacher turnover are less likely to leave the teaching workforce, while teachers who did their student teaching with an effective cooperating teacher are more effective once they enter the teaching workforce.

However, these preliminary results (like published results in Ronfeldt, 2012) do not account for potential sample selection bias that could result from prospective teachers with different student teaching experiences entering the workforce at different rates. We therefore plan to take advantage of the fact that our dataset contains a large percentage of individuals who completed student teaching but never enter the public teaching workforce to estimate two-step models that will account for potential sample selection bias.