Panel Paper: Does Cooperating Teachers’ Instructional Effectiveness Improve Preservice Teachers’ Future Performance?

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

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Matthew Ronfeldt, Stacey Brockman and Shanyce Campbell, University of Michigan

Increasingly, state policymakers and teacher education program leaders are establishing minimum requirements for cooperating teachers’ (CTs’) years of experience or tenure. Undergirding these policies is an assumption that, to be effective mentors of preservice teachers (PSTs), CTs must themselves be instructionally effective. If this assumption were true then we would expect instructional effectiveness, and other workforce outcomes, to be stronger among teachers who had been mentored by more instructionally effective CTs during preservice preparation.

We are aware, though, of only two prior studies that have linked the instructional effectiveness of CTs to later workforce outcomes of the PSTs that they had mentored (Authors, under review; Goldhaber et al., 2014). Looking across six major providers in Washington state, Goldhaber and colleagues found the likelihood of gaining employment among PSTs to be unrelated to their CTs’ value-added to student achievement (VAM), years of teaching experience, or educational backgrounds. Drawing on extensive pre- and post-student teaching survey data on all preservice and CTs across Chicago Public Schools, Authors (in review) found that PSTs reported feeling better prepared in establishing classroom environment (but not in other instructional areas) when their CTs had received stronger evaluations on the district REACH observational rubric. However, this study focused only on self-reported outcomes so, while PSTs felt better prepared, we do not know if they actually became more instructionally effective. To our knowledge, no study has examined whether PSTs are more instructionally effective when they learn to teach with more instructionally effective CTs. This study then asks:

  1. Are PSTs more instructionally effective when they learn to teach with more instructionally effective CTs?
  2. Are PSTs more instructionally effective in the same teaching domains in which their CTs excel?

Data for this study come from a statewide administrative dataset that includes over 2,500 PSTs who finished their preparation across 46 teacher education programs during the 2009-10 through 2014-15 academic years, and who were subsequently hired in-state during the 2010-11 through 2015-16 academic years. These PSTs could be linked to over 2,700 CTs who mentored them during their student teaching experiences and to administrative data on the characteristics of these CTs (including measures of instructional effectiveness) and the schools in which they worked. We measure PSTs’ future instructional effectiveness using their annual observation ratings, both overall and domain-specific; for a subset of PSTs, VAM scores were also available.

To assess the relationship between CTs’ and PSTs’ instructional effectiveness, we are using 3-level multilevel models (years at level 1; PSTs at level 2; teacher education programs at level 3) to estimate a PST’s observation rating (or VAM) as a function of her/his CT’s observation rating (or VAM), controlling for the characteristics of PSTs, their CTs, the schools in which they completed their student teaching experiences, as well as the schools in which they are currently employed. Analyses are underway. Our findings will have implications for teacher education program leaders and policymakers who seek to recruit, and set requirements for, CTs who are more likely to support PSTs’ future instructional effectiveness.