Panel Paper: Effective Like Me? Does Having a More Productive Mentor Improve the Productivity of Mentees?

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Wilson C - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington, John Krieg, Western Washington University and Roddy Theobald, American Institutes for Research

Although this existing quantitative research on student teaching focuses primarily on the school and district in which student teaching occurs, state policymakers and teacher education programs (TEPs) are increasingly focused on a more specific aspect of a candidate’s student teaching experience: the mentor teacher—referred to as cooperating teachers in Washington State (the setting for this study)—who supervises the candidate’s student teaching assignment. For example, some states (including Washington) have established minimum requirements for inservice teachers to serve as cooperating teachers; in the case of Washington, a minimum of 3 years of teaching experience. However, these policies are being developed in what is essentially an empirical vacuum, as there is little empirical evidence linking any characteristics of cooperating teachers to the future outcomes of the teacher candidates they supervise.

With this in mind, this paper investigates relationships between the characteristics of cooperating teachers (observable qualifications, characteristics, and value added) and the future effectiveness of teacher candidates they supervise (as measured by the test performance of students in their classrooms). This analysis will leverage data on the student teaching experiences of over 20,000 teacher candidates that have been assembled as part of the Teacher Education Learning Collaborative (TELC), a partnership with 15 of the 21 teacher education programs (TEPs) that place student teachers in Washington; TEPs participating in TELC have produced 79% of newly credentialed in-state teachers during the past decade. The TELC data will allow us to track these teacher candidates into the state’s K–12 public school workforce, and to our knowledge is by far the largest dataset that links the student teaching experiences of teacher candidates to later workforce outcomes.

The findings from this paper will be of considerable interest to policymakers—both in Washington and across the country—who are responsible for developing policies that impact student teaching placements in public schools. For example, as illustrated by Washington’s law establishing a minimum experience requirement for inservice teachers to serve as cooperating teachers for student teaching placements, state-level policymakers have the means to influence the placement of student teachers with cooperating teachers. This paper will provide empirical evidence to inform the development and implementation of these policies in Washington and across the country.