Where Should Student Teachers Learn to Teach?: Effects of Field Placement School Characteristics on Teacher Retention and Effectiveness
Issue/Topic: Teaching Quality--Preparation
Author(s): Ronfeldt, Matthew
Publication: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Published On: 3/1/2012
A growing number of studies are focusing on the effects of teacher preparation on improving teacher quality and there is ongoing debate about the kinds of schools that make for the best field placements during pre-service preparation. Some argue that easier-to-staff schools may best support teacher learning because they offer desirable teaching conditions, while others claim that those schools may leave teachers unprepared to work in difficult-to-staff schools and with underserved students.
To examine the effects of learning to teach in difficult-to-staff and underserved schools on teacher retention and effectiveness.
- Learning to teach in easier-to-staff field placement schools has positive effects on teacher retention and student achievement gains, even for teachers who end up working in the hardest-to-staff schools.
- Teachers who learned to teach in field placement schools with higher proportions of Black, poor, and low achieving students were no more or less effective as permanent teachers nor likely to remain teaching in NYC schools.
- The positive effects of learning to teach in easier-to-staff schools are more pronounced when these schools also serve large populations of Black students.
- Teacher education programs should avoid placing prospective teachers in difficult-to-staff schools. However, this is not to suggest that programs seek out schools with fewer poor, minority, and low-achieving students, but rather that they should consider making placements at easier-to-staff schools a priority.
- Schools are often hesitant to allow student teachers to take over classroom responsibilities from more experienced professionals. However, school leaders should remember that while there may be short-term losses to teacher quality in some classrooms that take student teachers, there are tremendous long-term potential gains in teacher effectiveness and retention.
- Understanding what and how teachers may be learning from easier-to-staff field placements are critical issues that must be explored in future studies.
- What mechanisms are easier-to-staff schools using to support teacher learning? For example, it might be the case that easier-to-staff schools attract and keep higher quality mentor teachers who can model and share best practices, that these kinds of schools provide new teachers more supportive settings for trying out the practices they are learning in school, or that they simply have better administrative support and leadership that provides a learning environment where quality instructional practice can thrive.
- What specific school-level features give rise to these effects?
New York City teachers in their first year in 2005
Year data is from:
Data Collection and Analysis:
- Survey of NYC first-year teachers and NYC Department of Education administrative data on students, teachers, and schools. - Subsample of NYC schools in which the study's teachers were placed during their field experiences - Teachers' value-added student test scores from mathematics test data from 2004-2005 and 2007-2008.
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