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Home Ask A REL What makes a teacher preparation program effective?

What makes a teacher preparation program effective?

Central | August 01, 2019

Following an established REL Central research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles to help answer the question. The resources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic databases, and general Internet search engines. (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. We have not evaluated the quality of the references provided in this response, and we offer them only for your information. Also, we compiled the references from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant sources may exist.

Research References

Baecher, L. (2012). Examining the place of English language learners within the teacher education curriculum. Journal of Curriculum and Teaching, 1(2), 8–20. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“Preparing teachers to support effective instruction of English language learners (ELLs) is an important dimension of today’s teacher education programs, yet often difficult to enact. This paper reports on a comprehensive curriculum analysis of a range of teacher preparation programs at one urban college of education. This contributed to a comprehensive understanding of the needs of faculty and candidates in their beliefs and experiences with ELL pedagogy. Implications for modifying the delivery of programs to strengthen more effective instruction for ELLs is discussed.”

Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2008). Teacher preparation and student achievement (CALDER Working Paper No. 20). Washington, DC: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“There are fierce debates over the best way to prepare teachers. Some argue that easing entry into teaching is necessary to attract strong candidates, while others argue that investing in high quality teacher preparation is the most promising approach. Most agree, however, that we lack a strong research basis for understanding how to prepare teachers. This paper is one of the first to estimate the effects of features of teachers’ preparation on teachers’ value-added to student test score performance in math and English Language Arts. Our results indicate variation across preparation programs in the average effectiveness of the teachers they are supplying to New York City schools. In particular, preparation directly linked to practice appears to benefit teachers in their first year.”

Cummins, L., & Asempapa, B. (2013). Fostering teacher candidate dispositions in teacher education programs. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(3), 99–119. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“The role of teacher preparation programs is to ensure that candidates are effectively prepared in the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to be an effective educator. However, dispositions have always been a challenge to the field of teacher education, particularly in response to assessing dispositions and in answering the question; can dispositions be taught? Many professionals in education and career counseling believe that candidates come endowed with the dispositions needed to be an effective teacher and this ‘endowment’ is the reason the candidate has chosen the career of teaching. Though, to a certain degree this premise may hold true, this article discussing a study done in an early childhood teacher preparation program with teacher candidates and demonstrated dispositions can be ‘taught’ if there is intentionality with effective teaching methods related to dispositions. Pre and post assessment results of 99 teacher candidates are compared in an introductory early childhood education course to measure candidates' tendencies to act in ways conducive to appropriate professional dispositions. A teaching intervention related to dispositions is also discussed and provided the premise that with intentional and effective teaching, comes intentional and effective learning.”

Emerson, J. M., Clarke, P. J., & Moldavan, A. M. (2018). Bridging pedagogy and practice: From coursework to field experiences in a teacher preparation program. Georgia Educational Researcher, 14(2), 24–35. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“In this study, two teacher educators, one special education faculty and one mathematics education faculty, examined ways to infuse educational theory into their practice to develop preservice teachers’ ability to meet the demands of the 21st century classroom. The study took place at an urban university in the southeastern United States where the teacher education program prepares future educators for the most diverse classroom settings existing in U.S. public schools today. Results informed the teacher educators of relevant challenges preservice teachers experience with regard to instructional design that addresses the needs of diverse learners. The action research study took place over a 3-semester period during which time the teacher educators learned how structured supports enhanced their students’ abilities to develop effective instruction for diverse learners.”

Goldhaber, D., & Liddle, S. (2012). The gateway to the profession: Assessing teacher preparation programs based on student achievement (CALDER Working Paper No. 65). Washington, D.C.: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“With teacher quality repeatedly cited as the most important schooling factor influencing student achievement, there has been increased interest in examining the efficacy of teacher training programs. This paper presents research examining the variation between and impact that individual teacher training institutions in Washington state have on the effectiveness of teachers they train. Using administrative data linking teachers’ initial endorsements to student achievement on state reading and math tests, we find the majority of teacher training programs produce teachers who are no more or less effective than teachers who trained out-of-state. However, we do find a number of cases where there are statistically significant differences between estimates of training program effects for teachers who were credentialed at various instate programs. These findings are robust to a variety of different model specifications.”

Hsu, P.-L. (2016). Science teaching experiences in informal settings: One way to enrich the preparation program for preservice science teachers. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 4(5), 1214–1222. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“The high attrition rate of new science teachers demonstrates the urgent need to incorporate effective practices in teacher preparation programs to better equip preservice science teachers. The purpose of the study is to demonstrate a way to enrich preservice science teachers’ preparation by incorporating informal science teaching practice into science method courses. A phenomenographic study was conducted to understand preservice teachers’ experiences in informal science practice and discuss the multiple benefits of this practice. Five experiential descriptions are identified: (a) rigorous preparations to teach in an informal environment; (b) an engaging and informative environment for teaching and learning; (c) improvisation to address learners’ needs spontaneously; (d) a sense of contribution and rewarding experience; and (e) insight development for teaching through feedback, reflection, and observation. These experiences allow preservice teachers to develop confidence in science teaching that may help them overcome obstacles when they become science teachers.”

Lacireno-Paquet, N., Bocala, C., Fronius, T., & Phillips, D. (2012). The characteristics and experiences of beginning teachers in seven Northeast and Islands Region states and nationally (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2012–No. 133). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands. Retrieved from

From the IES website description:

“The characteristics and experiences of beginning teachers in seven Northeast and Islands Region states and nationally, was produced by the 2006-11 REL Northeast and Islands and Education Development Center, Inc. The report describes the characteristics and experiences of beginning public school teachers (teachers with fewer than five years of teaching experience) in the Northeast and Islands Region states and compares them with the characteristics and experiences of beginning teachers nationally using data from the 2007/08 Schools and Staffing Survey. The study focuses on variables related to teachers’ preparation and workplace supports that research suggests might be associated with their perceptions of preparedness, effectiveness, and retention.”

Meyer, S. J. (2016). Understanding field experiences in traditional teacher preparation programs in Missouri (REL 2016–145). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Central. Retrieved from

From the IES website description:

“The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of field experiences in traditional teacher preparation programs completed by first-year teachers in Missouri and how experiences vary by teaching certificate type. This descriptive study is based on data from a survey administered in early 2015 to first-year teachers in Missouri public schools who completed traditional teacher preparation programs. Findings show that first-year teachers had field experiences that varied substantially in duration and diversity and that experiences varied for teachers with different types of teaching certificates. Most first-year teachers reported that their student teaching experiences aligned with their career teaching plans and first teaching assignments. Perceptions of the quality of resources and support in field experience schools were generally positive and first-year teachers reported frequent professional collaboration. Parent and community interaction during field experiences was less frequent. Observation and feedback activities during field experiences were frequent and first-year teachers engaged in a variety of instructional activities. Findings suggest that state and program administrators in Missouri and elsewhere may wish to monitor field experiences closely to ensure that expectations are met. Survey data suggest potential areas of focus including interaction with parents and community during field experiences; selection, training, and expectations of teacher candidate mentors; connections between course pedagogy to field experiences; and collaboration between teacher preparation programs and preK–12 schools. The survey developed for this study provides a data collection tool that can be adopted or adapted by state and teacher preparation program administrators and used as part of a system for monitoring program implementation. Detailed information about the implementation of teacher preparation programs may be used in future research on aspects of teacher preparation that are associated with more positive outcomes for program completers and their preK–12 students.”

Salinger, T., Mueller, L., Song, M., Jin, Y., Zmach, C., Toplitz, M., . . . Bickford, A. (2010). Study of teacher preparation in early reading instruction (NCEE 2010-4036). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract:

“A component of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act (NCLB) (PL 107-110) is its emphasis on the importance of systematic and explicit instruction in early reading using practices that are grounded in scientific research. The Reading First legislation (Title I, Part B, Subpart 1) within NCLB is designed to support state and local education agencies so that they can in turn base their early reading instruction on scientific research and focus on five ‘essential components’ of early reading instruction, as defined by the legislation and informed by the National Reading Panel: (1) phonemic awareness; (2) phonics; (3) vocabulary development; (4) reading fluency, particularly oral reading skills; and (5) reading comprehension strategies. This report responds to a congressional mandate in the Reading First legislation for ‘a measurement of how well students preparing to enter the teaching profession are prepared to teach the essential components of reading instruction’ (No Child Left Behind Act, 2001, Section 1205(c)(8)). The study plan included a survey about teacher education programs and an assessment of pre-service teachers’ knowledge about the essential components of early reading instruction. Appended are: (1) Pre-Service Teacher Program Survey; (2) Program Survey Variables and Assessment Items; (3) Program Survey and Knowledge Assessment Pilot Testing; (4) Recruitment; (5) Demographic Information Gathered through Program Survey; (6) Data Cleaning Procedures; (7) Psychometric Analysis of the Program Survey Scales Measuring Coursework Emphasis on, Filed Experience Exposure to, and Feelings of Preparedness to Teach the Essential Components; (8) Descriptive Statistics for Program Survey Items; (9) Knowledge Assessment Scoring, Scale, Distractor, and Forms Analysis; (10) Knowledge Assessment Means Tables; (11) Hierarchical Linear Model Used to Answer the Primary and Secondary Research Questions; and (12) Administration of The Knowledge Assessment to Experts and Novices.”

Silva, T., McKie, A., & Gleason, P. (2015). New findings on the retention of novice teachers from teaching residency programs (NCEE evaluation brief). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“ This brief updates earlier study findings (Silva et al. 2014) regarding the extent to which teachers trained through teaching residency programs (TRPs) funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Partnership grants program are retained in their districts and schools. TRPs prepare new teachers primarily through a year-long residency in a high-need school and integrated coursework leading to a master’s degree. This brief examines two cohorts of novice TRP teachers–those who were in their first year of teaching and those who were in their second year of teaching during the 2011–2012 school year. It looks at the rates at which the TRP teachers were retained in the same district or the same school as of fall 2013. To provide contextual information, the study also includes a representative sample of teachers who were in their first or second year of teaching during the 2011–2012 school year and were trained through other (nonTRP) programs. The retention analyses focus on teachers from six districts served by 12 TRPs. Key findings from the study include:

  • TRP teachers were more likely to remain teaching in the same district than non-TRP teachers with similar teaching placements.
  • School-retention rates were similar between the two groups of teachers.
  • TRP teachers who moved to different schools in the same district tended to join ones where a similar proportion of students were from low-income families, a lower percentage were black, and achievement was higher.”

Silva, T., McKie, A., Knechtel, V., Gleason, P., & Makowsky, L. (2014). Teaching residency programs: A multisite look at a new model to prepare teachers for high-need schools (NCEE 2015-4002). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from

From the IES website description:

“In Fall 2009 and Spring 2010, 30 teaching residency programs received funding through one of 28 Teacher Quality partnership grants awarded to establish or expand residency programs. These programs follow a model of teacher preparation in which prospective teachers complete graduate-level coursework alongside a year-long fieldwork experience in the district in which the prospective teacher will be hired. This report provides descriptive information regarding the 30 residency programs. For a purposefully-selected subset of 12 of the programs, in-depth information is provided regarding program participants and the retention rates of teachers once hired by the district.

The residency programs provided a fieldwork experience with a mentor teacher, along with integrated coursework. On average, residents reported being fully in charge of instruction for 21 days during the first half of the residence and 37 days during the second half. The programs included the equivalent of 10 courses, on average. The programs somewhat broadened the pool of people entering the teaching profession in the participating districts. For example, novice teachers from the residency programs were more likely than teachers from other programs to report having worked in a full-time job other than teaching (72 percent versus 63 percent). However, novice residency program teachers and teachers from other preparation programs had similar demographic characteristics. Novice teachers from residency programs had similar retention rates to other novice teachers. Approximately 90 percent of teachers from both groups reported staying in the same district from spring 2012 to fall 2012; about 5 percent of teachers were no longer teaching.”

Walsh, N., & Akhavan, N. (2018). Developing high quality teachers through professional pre-service teaching opportunities. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 11(4), 153–164. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“Based on the reform movements over the past two decades, it is evident that while effective teachers are critical to student learning, not all teachers are coming to the profession highly qualified. Policy and research continue to highlight the need to reorganize and refocus teacher preparation programs to produce higher quality teachers ready to meet the demands of the classroom from day one of employment. This study focuses on the enhancement of traditional preparation programs in public Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) as this continues to be the context for which most teacher candidates come to the profession. Using a six-group, four measure mixed-methods design, the objective of the study is to determine the impact California Teaching Fellows Foundation (CTFF), a pre-service teaching and learning opportunity for future teacher candidates, has on developing higher caliber teachers prepared in a traditional University-based teacher preparation setting. Through the use of an online survey, interviews, and focus groups, the relationship of CTFF participation to teacher efficacy before, during, and after traditional preparation participation is examined and explored from the perspective of teacher and supervisor. Unexpected findings show that CTFF participation has a relationship to decreased Teacher Efficacy for teacher candidates and CTFF is not creating a significant pipeline to teaching as proposed, leading to questions for further study.”


Keywords and Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Effective educator preparation
  • Effective teacher preparation
  • Effective “teacher preparation” programs

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and Google.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published between 2009 and 2019 were included in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority was given to ERIC, followed by Google Scholar and Google.
  • Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were used in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types–randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive analyses, literature reviews; and (b) target population and sample.

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