The strengths of the initial teacher preparation system in the United States lie in the widespread realisation of the need to improve programme quality, the existence of networks of role models for excellence; and abundant data to support teachers’ growth and continuous development. However, in such a decentralised system, the main challenges are the large number and variation in programme quality, often within districts, scaling up local innovations, and achieving consensus on urgent issues to be addressed, such as teacher shortage and teacher mobility. Opportunities lie in continuing to focus on initial teacher preparation, both in research and policy, with commensurate investment; strategic and effective use of data to improve quality; and implementation of incentives or levers to stimulate system-level change.

Who's who in ITP in the United States?

From 24 to 28 October 2016, the OECD Review team spoke to more than 100 different stakeholders in national government and government agencies, states, school districts, teacher education institutions, alternative providers, schools, associations and teacher unions in Ann Arbor, Boston, New York City and Washington D.C.

Meet the stakeholders
Federal Government

Federal Government

United States Department of Education

The United States Department of Education, through the Higher Education Act (HEA), obliges each state and ITE provider to collect data about their programme and then report these data to the Department. It can also fund partnerships between higher education institutions and school districts to prepare teachers for high-needs schools

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Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is a non-governmental accrediting body created in 2010 following the merger of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). In some states, CAEP accreditation is required for approval or substitutes for a state approval process. In other states, CAEP accreditation is optional. CAEP requires an ITE provider to submit some data annually and then, every 7 years, prepare a detailed report about its programmes. A team from CAEP visits the programme and prepares a final report upon which the decision to accredit is based.

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The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is a non-governmental accrediting body created in 2010 following the merger of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). In some states, CAEP accreditation is required for approval or substitutes for a state approval process. In other states, CAEP accreditation is optional. CAEP requires an ITE provider to submit some data annually and then, every 7 years, prepare a detailed report about its programmes. A team from CAEP visits the programme and prepares a final report upon which the decision to accredit is based.

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Sub-national authorities

Sub-national authorities

State Department of Education

Every state’s department of education has a deep interest in the quality
of teacher preparation providers. States are responsible for legislating standards for these providers and devote
resources from their department of education to enact them.”

 

School districts

In general, school districts are not responsible for initial teacher preparation. However, in some states, districts are developing their own ITE programmes, usually alternative programmes. Some districts are starting “grow-your-own” programs, such a Houston, Texas, where high school graduates who qualify can receive substantial stipends from the district to attend college–as long as they earn a teaching degree and teach in Houston for five years after graduating. Other districts, such as Boston, Massachusetts, have partnered with residency programmes to help prepare teachers who the district then hires.

 

Council of Chief State School Officers

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a membership organisation composed of the highest ranking education officials in each state, including heads of departments of elementary and secondary education in each state, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defence Education Activity and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. The goals of the organisation are to coordinate programmes and projects that help state chiefs learn from each other and work together to raise the quality of teaching and learning in their states. CCSSO also represents the interests of the group in terms of federal legislation that can affect state policies and practices.

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Criteria for selection : The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) has 408 school districts (2013-14 school year data). In the 2013-14 school year MA DESE had 4 267 initial teacher preparation programme completers and 72 initial teacher preparation programme providers (54 of which were institutes of higher education and 18 of which were alternative providers). The Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education has the statutory authority to approve programmes that prepare teacher candidates. Public and private higher education institutions, districts, collaborative, and non-profit organisations may apply for programme approval, but all types of organisations must prepare candidates in accordance with the standards for licensure and programme approval and are subject to regular reviews.
Public schools : 1854 (2015-16)
Charter schools: 81 (2015-16)
Teachers: 72 384 (2015-16)
Percentage of teachers licensed in teaching assignment: 97% (2015-16)
Student teacher ratio: 13 to 1 (2015-16)

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The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a membership organisation composed of the highest ranking education officials in each state, including heads of departments of elementary and secondary education in each state, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defence Education Activity and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. The goals of the organisation are to coordinate programmes and projects that help state chiefs learn from each other and work together to raise the quality of teaching and learning in their states. CCSSO also represents the interests of the group in terms of federal legislation that can affect state policies and practices.

Learn more

Criteria for selection : The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) has 408 school districts (2013-14 school year data). In the 2013-14 school year MA DESE had 4 267 initial teacher preparation programme completers and 72 initial teacher preparation programme providers (54 of which were institutes of higher education and 18 of which were alternative providers). The Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education has the statutory authority to approve programmes that prepare teacher candidates. Public and private higher education institutions, districts, collaborative, and non-profit organisations may apply for programme approval, but all types of organisations must prepare candidates in accordance with the standards for licensure and programme approval and are subject to regular reviews.
Public schools : 1854 (2015-16)
Charter schools: 81 (2015-16)
Teachers: 72 384 (2015-16)
Percentage of teachers licensed in teaching assignment: 97% (2015-16)
Student teacher ratio: 13 to 1 (2015-16)

Learn more

Teacher education institutions

Teacher education institutions

Traditional initial teacher education programmes

Traditional teacher education programmes are based in universities and often accept undergraduates when they are college juniors, meaning at the beginning of their third of four years of university. While a university sets admission standards for incoming freshmen, a department of education can set different standards for those who seek entry into teacher preparation that are either higher or lower than the university’s standards. The same generally holds true for graduate programmes leading to a teaching certificate. In the school year 2012–13, 89% of ITE students were enrolled in a traditional teacher education programme (USDOE, 2015b).

Alternative initial teacher education programmes

Conceived to address teacher shortages, alternative programmes allow individuals to teach without necessarily going through a college’s campus-based teacher education programme, and often in a shorter period of time. Ease of entry into these programmes can vary significantly according to the programme. In school year 2012–13, 11% of ITE students were enrolled in alternative programmes (U.S. Department of Education, 2015b), and as of 2010, 48 states and the District of Columbia have some alternate route to teacher certification.

Trainee teachers (traditional ITE programmes)

Students in an undergraduate teacher preparation programme take courses in pedagogy, in educational psychology, and in specific subject matter. They also likely take courses on teaching diverse students, which may include the history and sociology of education. In nearly every state, candidates intending to teach in secondary schools must complete an academic major in the subject area in which they intend to teach, while minoring in education; in contrast, elementary teacher candidates major in education. Traditional preparation programmes typically include about 125 hours of practicum and about 525 hours of student teaching (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).

Teacher candidates (alternative ITE programmes)

Candidates to undergo intensive training for 6 to 8 weeks in the summer, including teaching summer school while being supervised by teacher educators. These candidates become classroom teachers after this training and receive continued, periodic supervision of their teaching while taking coursework, often at a nearby university, in pedagogy and subject matter.

Teacher residents (alternative ITE programmes)

There are also alternative programs called residencies that place teacher candidates in schools for an entire school year. Often, teacher residents work in schools 4 days a week and take coursework on the day they are not in a school. Residents often start the programme by taking courses in the summer, do their clinical training and more coursework during the school year, and then take courses again in the summer. They are nearly always hired by the school district where they completed their residency and, while teaching, finish a graduate degree.

Teach for America

Criteria for selection: Teach For America (TFA) was created in 1989 to bring some of the nation’s high-performing college graduates to fill teaching vacancies in high-need urban and rural schools. It offers teacher candidates 6-8 weeks of training in the summer, and partner with universities to provide coursework that may lead to a degree. TFA members are expected to commit to teach for two years in public schools. TFA reported that they had 3 400 incoming members in 2015 who were selected among 37 000 applicants in 53 regions. It is among the country’s largest providers of teachers in low-income communities.
No. of ITE programmes??
No. of ITE enrolments: 3 500 (2017)

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The New Teacher Project

Criteria for selection: The New Teacher Project (TNTP) is a US national non-profit organisation dedicated to improving teacher quality through teacher recruitment and training. It is one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the US, having trained more than 50 000 teachers since 1997. Its programmes focus on training teachers for hard-to-staff subject areas in urban classrooms. Its ITE programme usually takes 16-18 months and is mostly funded by school districts. It operates a similar model to Teach for America, but recruits mid-career professionals. During the 2015-16 school year they operated in 7 locations, with approximately 1 000 candidates.
No. of ITE programmes: 5 (2018)
No. of ITE enrolments: Approximately 400 (2018)

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Center for Inspired Teaching

Criteria for selection: Since its founding in 1995, Inspired Teaching has been building and supporting a critical mass of Inspired Teachers who are highly effective practitioners and changemakers. The organisation trains educators at all stages of their careers, providing a unique professional development model that improves teachers’ ability to raise student achievement and enable students to achieve their full potential. Current Inspired Teaching initiatives include in-depth, innovative training for new and in-service teachers and programs to demonstrate ‘Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity – 4Is’ in action in Washington, D.C.

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Criteria for selection: Teach For America (TFA) was created in 1989 to bring some of the nation’s high-performing college graduates to fill teaching vacancies in high-need urban and rural schools. It offers teacher candidates 6-8 weeks of training in the summer, and partner with universities to provide coursework that may lead to a degree. TFA members are expected to commit to teach for two years in public schools. TFA reported that they had 3 400 incoming members in 2015 who were selected among 37 000 applicants in 53 regions. It is among the country’s largest providers of teachers in low-income communities.
No. of ITE programmes??
No. of ITE enrolments: 3 500 (2017)

Learn more

Criteria for selection: The New Teacher Project (TNTP) is a US national non-profit organisation dedicated to improving teacher quality through teacher recruitment and training. It is one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the US, having trained more than 50 000 teachers since 1997. Its programmes focus on training teachers for hard-to-staff subject areas in urban classrooms. Its ITE programme usually takes 16-18 months and is mostly funded by school districts. It operates a similar model to Teach for America, but recruits mid-career professionals. During the 2015-16 school year they operated in 7 locations, with approximately 1 000 candidates.
No. of ITE programmes: 5 (2018)
No. of ITE enrolments: Approximately 400 (2018)

Learn more

Criteria for selection: Since its founding in 1995, Inspired Teaching has been building and supporting a critical mass of Inspired Teachers who are highly effective practitioners and changemakers. The organisation trains educators at all stages of their careers, providing a unique professional development model that improves teachers’ ability to raise student achievement and enable students to achieve their full potential. Current Inspired Teaching initiatives include in-depth, innovative training for new and in-service teachers and programs to demonstrate ‘Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity – 4Is’ in action in Washington, D.C.

Learn more

Teacher educators
Trainee teachers
Schools

Schools

Schools

State governments set overall educational standards, often mandate standardised tests for K–12 public school systems and supervise, usually through a board of regents, state colleges and universities. Private schools are generally free to determine their own curriculum and staffing policies, with voluntary accreditation available through independent regional accreditation authorities. In 2013, about 87% of school-age children attended state funded public schools.

Teachers

There are more than 3 million public school teachers in the United States. In 2014, there were more than 2 000 providers of teacher preparation in the nation. Most teachers are prepared through a programme at a traditional provider, which are undergraduate programmes leading to a degree and certification

School management

To become a school leader or administrator in the United States, a teacher would typically take a series of courses, sometimes complete a school leader internship or some clinical training, and then pass a school leader licensure assessment or managerial class examination.

Experienced teachers

Typically, once a teacher has received a professional license, it is possible to teach under that license indefinitely. There may be some professional learning requirements to fulfil at various intervals to maintain the license, but there is not a requirement to obtain a more advanced license. Nonetheless, every state has a different licensure process, and all but five states have a multi-tiered licensure system that allows teachers to move up the licensure ladder.

2nd career teachers

In general, career changers enter profession through an alternative ITE program. They are required to earn an initial teacher license, and then move up to a professional license in the same way as other teachers. However, a number of states have relaxed requirements for career-changers because of teacher shortages, and allow districts to hire anyone who has experience that has given them content knowledge.

Mentor teachers

Some states in the United States require that the mentor teacher supervising a student teacher meet specific criteria. Sometimes, mentor teachers are required to complete training before they can supervise a candidate. In some states, mentor teachers must be rated as effective or highly effective by the local teacher evaluation system.

New teachers

In the United States, new teachers are hired by school districts, and the hiring process varies from district to district. In some districts, human resources officials sort through applications and send a selected group to principals with opening in their schools.

Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School

Criteria for selection: Residency model

Location: Washington, D.C

The Inspired Teaching Demonstration School is a separate organisation from Center for Inspired Teaching. The school currently serves students from age 3 through 7th grade and will add one grade level in school year 2016-17, when it reaches capacity at 8th grade. The school houses a Teacher Residency programme in which Inspired Teaching Residents work towards full certification under the guidance and supervision of their master teachers.

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Bronx Early College Academy

Criteria for selection: Urban setting, mixed socio-economic background

Location: New York

Bronx Early College Academy is a comprehensive 6 – 12 public school with 496 students across grade levels. The Academy focuses on developing a community of principled citizens, students, families, staff and community members who commit to supporting all students to successfully participate in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. More than half of the student population are Hispanic, like other schools in the Bronx.

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Mitchell-Scarlett school site

Criteria for selection: Partnership with a university

Location: Michigan

The school has been collaborating with the University of Michigan School of Education under the partnership called the Mitchell-Scarlett Teaching and Learning Collaborative (MSTLC). It includes mutually beneficial activities for new and experienced teachers, school leaders and faculty members. The initiative includes opportunities for beginning teachers and experienced teachers to engage with one another in meaningful reflective teaching practices.

Learn more

Teaching Works

Based at the University of Michigan, Teaching Works provides professional development seminars and creates performance assessments of practice to help select teachers into the profession. These seminars and assessments are based on “high-leverage instructional practices” and content knowledge for teaching developed by faculty members at the University of Michigan School of Education for beginning and early career teachers.

Learn more

Criteria for selection: Residency model

Location: Washington, D.C

The Inspired Teaching Demonstration School is a separate organisation from Center for Inspired Teaching. The school currently serves students from age 3 through 7th grade and will add one grade level in school year 2016-17, when it reaches capacity at 8th grade. The school houses a Teacher Residency programme in which Inspired Teaching Residents work towards full certification under the guidance and supervision of their master teachers.

Learn more

Criteria for selection: Urban setting, mixed socio-economic background

Location: New York

Bronx Early College Academy is a comprehensive 6 – 12 public school with 496 students across grade levels. The Academy focuses on developing a community of principled citizens, students, families, staff and community members who commit to supporting all students to successfully participate in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. More than half of the student population are Hispanic, like other schools in the Bronx.

Learn more

Criteria for selection: Partnership with a university

Location: Michigan

The school has been collaborating with the University of Michigan School of Education under the partnership called the Mitchell-Scarlett Teaching and Learning Collaborative (MSTLC). It includes mutually beneficial activities for new and experienced teachers, school leaders and faculty members. The initiative includes opportunities for beginning teachers and experienced teachers to engage with one another in meaningful reflective teaching practices.

Learn more

Based at the University of Michigan, Teaching Works provides professional development seminars and creates performance assessments of practice to help select teachers into the profession. These seminars and assessments are based on “high-leverage instructional practices” and content knowledge for teaching developed by faculty members at the University of Michigan School of Education for beginning and early career teachers.

Learn more

School management
Teachers
Experienced teachers
2nd career teachers
Mentor teachers
New teachers
National associations

National associations

Due to the decentralised nature of the United States and depending on local context and conditions, each state and/or school district has its own bodies representing the education community. In some states, advocacy organisations for children lobby for improved education; in other states, professional membership organisations, such as the Association of School Administrators, may be more vocal stakeholders.

The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education

The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) represents groups of local and state organisations involved in or with an interest in teacher preparation. Its members are generally teacher preparation units in colleges and universities. Membership is voluntary, and more than 800 higher education institutions with teacher preparation programmes are members. AACTE acts as a national advocate for its members with regard to federal and state legislation, provides information about trends and policies to members, and organises activities to support improvement in teacher preparation.

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Deans for Impact

Deans for Impact is a national non-profit organisation formed in 2014 by about two dozen deans of schools of education to promote processes for transforming teacher preparation. The organisation has made teacher preparation accountable based on data and outcomes as one of its main goals. By learning from and sharing what is learned through an accountability system based on data, the organisation’s members believe the field of teacher preparation will improve.

Learn more

The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) represents groups of local and state organisations involved in or with an interest in teacher preparation. Its members are generally teacher preparation units in colleges and universities. Membership is voluntary, and more than 800 higher education institutions with teacher preparation programmes are members. AACTE acts as a national advocate for its members with regard to federal and state legislation, provides information about trends and policies to members, and organises activities to support improvement in teacher preparation.

Learn more

Deans for Impact is a national non-profit organisation formed in 2014 by about two dozen deans of schools of education to promote processes for transforming teacher preparation. The organisation has made teacher preparation accountable based on data and outcomes as one of its main goals. By learning from and sharing what is learned through an accountability system based on data, the organisation’s members believe the field of teacher preparation will improve.

Learn more

Teacher unions

Teacher unions

There are 2 principal teacher unions in the United States – the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association – participation in which varies according to state. Both are strong advocates of improving initial teacher preparation. There are state-level union organisations for one or both of the national teacher unions.

American Federation of Teachers

The second largest teacher union in the United States, the American Federation of Teachers has about 1.6 million members, and about 50 000 of these are nurses and other health care workers. The AFT is a union of professionals, which strongly supports improving initial teacher preparation (American Federation of Teachers, 2013).

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National Education Association

The largest teacher union in the United States, the National Education Association (NEA) has more than 2.5 million active members. The NEA strongly supports improved teacher preparation as a way to improve teacher quality and student equity and opportunity (National Education Association, 2013).

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The second largest teacher union in the United States, the American Federation of Teachers has about 1.6 million members, and about 50 000 of these are nurses and other health care workers. The AFT is a union of professionals, which strongly supports improving initial teacher preparation (American Federation of Teachers, 2013).

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The largest teacher union in the United States, the National Education Association (NEA) has more than 2.5 million active members. The NEA strongly supports improved teacher preparation as a way to improve teacher quality and student equity and opportunity (National Education Association, 2013).

Learn more

The OECD ITP study focused on which levels of education in the United States?

UNITED STATES’ FOCUS WAS ON LOWER SECONDARY EDUCATION

Who contributed to the OECD ITP study
in the United States?

A national co-ordinator was nominated by each participating country to manage the ITP study with the OECD and the 4-person OECD Review Team.

Meet the team
OECD
REVIEW TEAM
OBSERVERS
OECD
REVIEW TEAM
Hannah von Ahlefeld
Project lead, OECD
Initial Teacher Preparation Study
Jukka Alava
Emeritus Professor,
University of Jyväskylä
Kjetil Helgeland
Analyst, OECD Initial Teacher
Preparation Study
Danielle Toon
Manager, Learning First,
Australia
OBSERVERS
Makito Yurita
Senior Researcher Fellow,
NITS, Japan
Yoon Young Lee
Consultant, OECD Initial
Teacher Preparation Study

OECD wishes to thank…

The team is grateful to the Department of Education for organising such an eventful trip to the United States!