The significance of an effective teacher is well known to anyone involved in public education and the quality of the student teaching experience is a crucial factor in determining teachers’ later success in the classroom. Recent graduates consistently report student teaching as the most important aspect of their training. Despite its clear importance, there is a lack of rigorous evidence about which components of the student teaching experience lead to high quality teaching after training.
The Improving Student Teaching Initiative (ISTI), led by principal investigator Dan Goldhaber (American Institute of Research) and co-principal investigator Matt Ronfeldt (University of Michigan), seeks to partner with teacher preparation programs to improve the quality of student teaching experiences during initial teacher preparation. The improvement strategy, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has two main facets. First, ISTI will help programs use existing evaluation data to identify the mentor teachers and placement schools that are most likely to lead to successful internships. Second, ISTI will work with programs to implement a more intensive, online feedback system during the clinical internship. The higher-intensity feedback will use the host district’s observational protocol, operate on an accelerated schedule, focus on a few areas of potential improvement, and involve structured debriefing sessions with the supervising teacher and coordinating instructor. ISTI plans to partner with about ten large teacher education programs across three states and study the effects of these improvement strategies on later teacher effectiveness and retention using state evaluation and administrative data.