Panel Paper: Placed for Success? an Analysis of Student Teaching Placements and Novice Teacher Performance

Saturday, November 9, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 17 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kevin Bastian, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Kristina M. Patterson, Georgia Southern University and Dale Carpenter, Western Carolina University

Given the importance of student teaching placements, educator preparation programs (EPPs) and their school district partners face strong incentives to identify placement schools and cooperating teachers that will encourage the development of pre-service teachers (PSTs). This may be especially true for PSTs who are struggling academically. They may particularly benefit from a high-quality learning environment and highly-effective cooperating teacher. As such, this study extends recent student teaching analyses to North Carolina to assess whether characteristics of the placement school and cooperating teacher predict the performance of early-career teachers and whether these results vary based on the academic performance of PSTs. These analyses may suggest that EPPs and school districts should focus on placements for certain PSTs.

To conduct these analyses, we received student teaching data from six EPPS in North Carolina. These institutions are geographically spread, and together, account for more than 50 percent of the initially-prepared teachers in North Carolina. The student teaching data covered the 2011-12 through 2015-16 years and included PST characteristics, the semester/year of student teaching, the student teaching school, and the name of the cooperating teacher. We connected these data to administrative files from North Carolina to identify characteristics of the student teaching school and the cooperating teacher. Within each institution, we placed PSTs into quartiles based on their cumulative GPA. This is our measure of academic success for analyses.

We followed PSTs into the profession to assess whether these characteristics predict their value-added estimates and evaluation ratings as early-career teachers. All of our analyses include an EPP fixed effect and control for characteristics of the early-career teacher and the in-service school. Sub-analyses focus on PSTs in the bottom GPA quartile, the middle two GPA quartiles, and the highest GPA quartile.

Results across all PSTs support recent research findings. Early-career teachers who student taught in a high-quality learning environment—characterized by school value-added and teacher collaboration—went on to have higher value-added estimates and evaluation ratings. Likewise, results indicate that early-career teachers have higher value-added estimates when their cooperating teacher had higher value-added estimates in previous years; early-career teachers earn higher evaluation ratings when their cooperating teacher was previously rated higher on a leadership standard.

Importantly, sub-analyses indicate that PSTs in the lowest GPA quartile particularly benefit from placement schools with higher student achievement growth and higher levels of teacher collaboration. Pre-service teachers with lower GPAs have higher value-added estimates and evaluation ratings when their cooperating teacher was previously rated higher on a leadership standard. Further analyses indicate that PSTs in the bottom GPA quartile are just as effective as peers with higher GPAs if they had a high-quality placement.

These analyses may help EPPs make evidence-based placements, encourage school districts to actively participate in the placement process, and inform state level requirements for placement sites and cooperating teachers. Our results for PSTs who are academically struggling suggest that EPPs should be particularly intentional in identifying placements in high-quality learning environments and with cooperating teachers with strong mentoring skills.