Panel Paper: The Costs of Mentorship? Exploring the Impact of Student Teaching Placements on Student Achievement

Friday, November 3, 2017
Wrigley (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Dan Goldhaber1,2,3,4, John Krieg5 and Roddy Theobald2, (1)University of Washington, (2)American Institutes for Research, (3)Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, (4)Center for Education Data and Research, (5)Western Washington University

Student teaching placements are a nearly universal component of traditional teacher education, and several recent studies connect teacher candidates’ student teaching experiences to subsequent outcomes of these candidates and their students once they enter the teaching workforce (e.g., Goldhaber et al., 2017; Krieg et al., 2016; Ronfeldt, 2015). However, there is limited empirical evidence on the impact of student teachers on the outcomes of students they teach during their student teaching placement. Given well-documented returns to teaching experience and the reality that teacher candidates’ student teaching experiences are often their first prolonged experience in an actual classroom, it is reasonable to expect that exposure to student teachers may have an impact on student achievement.

We investigate this question using data from Washington State collected as part of the Teacher Education Learning Collaborative (TELC), a consortium of 14 of the 20 teacher education programs (TEPs) in the state. TEPs in TELC have shared comprehensive data about their teacher candidates’ student teaching experiences going back to at least 2009-10, including the student teaching school and cooperating teacher who supervised the student teaching. We plan to merge these data with longitudinal, student-level data from Washington State covering the same time period (2009-10 through 2015-16); for our primary analysis, we will focus on school districts west of the Cascade Mountains because TEPs in TELC are disproportionately located in this region of the state (and supply over 90% of the new teachers in these districts). This ensures that we have nearly a complete census of all student teachers hosted by these districts and schools across these years of data.

We plan to estimate teacher fixed effects models that include indicators for whether a teacher hosted a student teacher in a given school year. Estimates from these models will allow us to investigate whether teachers’ students perform any worse (and if so, how much worse) in years the teachers host a student teacher than in years they do not. We also plan to consider specific student teacher characteristics (e.g., institution and licensure test scores) and interactions between student teacher and cooperating teacher characteristics (e.g., gender or race matches) to explore heterogeneity in these results.

We anticipate that our findings will have important policy implications. Specifically, while some recent studies have suggested that there may be important future benefits for school districts—and particularly, districts that have difficulties in teacher hiring—to hosting more student teachers (Krieg et al., 2016; Goldhaber et al., 2017; Ronfeldt, 2015), districts may want to weigh these benefits against potential current costs of hosting student teachers on student achievement.



Goldhaber, D., Krieg, J., and Theobald, R. (2017). Does the match matter? Exploring whether student teaching experiences affect teacher effectiveness. American Educational Research Journal.

Krieg, J., Theobald, R., and Goldhaber, D. (2016). A foot in the door: Exploring the role of student teaching assignments in teachers’ initial job placements. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis38, 364-388.

Ronfeldt, M. (2015). Field placement schools and instructional effectiveness. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(4), 304–320.