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Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

A Study Of Teacher Preparation Programs In The United States

Contractor: The National Research Council

Background/Research Questions:

In 2003 Congress mandated that the Institute of Education Sciences contract with the National Research Council to conduct an study of teacher preparation programs in the United States. The study requirements include a synthesis of data and research on traditional undergraduate and graduate education programs as well as alternative certification programs. In addition, the study is to assess the consistency of the program content and requirements with converging scientific evidence in reading and mathematics.

In 2004 Congress requested IES to have the National Research Council conduct a report on the academic preparation and educational experiences of teachers trained through pre-service, graduate, and alternative certification routes. The following are the research questions:

  • Who enters teacher preparation programs (pre-service, graduate, and alternative)? What is their academic preparation? What is their educational background?
  • What type of instruction and experiences do participants receive in the preparation program? Who delivers it? To what extent is there commonality in content and experiences?
  • To what extent is the required course work and experiences in reading and mathematics across teacher preparation programs consistent with converging scientific evidence?


An independent committee of experts will synthesize data and research on: 1) the academic preparation and educational characteristics of candidates in pre-service, graduate, and alternative certification programs; 2) the specific content and experiences that are provided to candidates for degrees and alternative certification in education; 3) the consistency of the required coursework and experiences in reading and mathematics across teacher preparation programs; and 4) the degree to which the content and experiences are based on converging scientific evidence.

Cost/Duration: $1,500,000 over 5 years (June 2005–May 2010)

Current Status: Completed. The report was released in April 2010 (see


Based on a review of the research literature available at the time of this study, the NRC committee indicated that:

  • specific conclusions about the characteristics of teacher preparation programs were not possible because of the paucity of systematic research as well as the enormous variation in virtually all aspects of teacher preparation programs and pathways.
  • there was little definitive evidence that particular approaches to teacher preparation yielded teachers whose students were more successful than others.
  • little is known about the best ways to prepare prospective teachers to teach across various subject areas.