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Study of Teacher Preparation Experiences and Early Teacher Effectiveness

Contract Information

Current Status:

This study has been completed.


September 2011 – October 2019



Contract Number:



Abt Associates
Pemberton Research
Education Analytics


Title II, Part A, the Improving Teacher Quality State Formula Grants program, is the primary federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to improve teacher quality. Research has shown that, on average, novice teachers are less effective in improving student achievement than their more experienced peers. This is particularly an issue given that new teachers tend to be concentrated in high-poverty schools with lower-performing students. Little research exists, however, to inform how best to prepare novice teachers for the classroom. This study explored the variation in teachers' preparation experiences. It also examined whether the experiences that novice teachers have in their certification programs are associated with teachers' effectiveness in the classroom. The study defined novice teachers as those in their first three years in the profession.

  • To what extent did teachers report participating in various preparation experiences?
  • Among novice teachers, what are the relationships between the teachers' experiences in their preparation programs and the achievement of students in their classroom?

Approximately 3,300 novice elementary school teachers participated in this descriptive study. The teachers were surveyed once, in spring 2015. The survey asked teachers about their experiences learning specific teaching strategies across two categories of classroom instruction: "Creating a productive learning environment" and "Promoting analytic thinking skills." For each strategy, teachers reported how often within their preparation they engaged in four different ways of learning them: coursework, observation of other teachers, practice within a classroom setting, and instructor feedback on their classroom practice. The study describes the frequency of these experiences and which experiences may matter for teachers' effectiveness in improving student test scores.

The study report, titled Teacher Preparation Experiences and Early Teaching Effectiveness, was released in September 2019.

A restricted-use file containing de-identified data is available for the purposes of replicating some study findings and conducting secondary analyses. Due to data use agreements with study sites, only teacher survey responses and district and school demographic data from the Common Core of Data are included in the file.

  • Of the four ways of learning — coursework, observation, practice, and feedback — teachers' preparation most frequently included coursework and least frequently included receiving feedback.
  • Practice in "Creating a productive learning environment" was the only way of learning related to teaching effectiveness in English/Language Arts (ELA) and math. More frequent observation of others and feedback from program staff or their cooperating teacher was also related to improved teaching effectiveness, but only in ELA. The frequency of coursework on Creating a productive learning environment was not related to how effective teachers were in either subject once they got to the classroom, despite coursework being the most common learning opportunity teachers experienced.
  • Having more preparation experience with "Promoting analytic thinking skills" — through any of the four learning opportunities — was unrelated to teacher effectiveness. It would be premature to conclude that experiences focused on these teaching strategies are not important components of effective preparation; however, it does suggest more investigation into the nature of these strategies is needed to guide improvements in preparation.