Teacher candidates in the United States have a large choice of initial teacher education (ITE) programmes. In 2014-15, there were a total of 27 577 ITE programmes provided by 2 171 teacher education institutions. 70% of these were traditional teacher education programmes, based in universities and generally leading undergraduate students without teaching experience to a bachelor’s degree, and 30% were alternative teacher education programmes (20% were offered by providers based at institutions of higher education (IHE) and 10% were not-IHE-based providers), where candidates start teaching in a classroom directly, with a temporary license (US Department of Education, 2016).
States use a variety of selection filters for entry into initial teacher education (ITE) programmes. The National Council on Teacher Quality (2015) reports that 24 states have a testing and/or a minimum GPA requirement for admission. Teacher education institutions can set admission standards to a higher level than the state minimum requirements if they so wish.
The University of Michigan uses an approach called Learning and Teaching the Disciplines through Clinical Rounds for its ITE programmes (secondary education) to integrate the content knowledge and practices that teachers need to teach specific subjects. Teacher candidates complete academic coursework and guided experiences in schools. They present a video of their teaching practice and deeply analyse it with peers, school-based mentor teachers, university faculty and field instructors.
States are responsible for approving initial teacher education (ITE) programmes, and the process varies from state to state. A number of states require teacher education institutions (TEI) to earn national accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP). To earn CAEP accreditation, TEIs must submit annual data about their teacher candidates and completers, including outcome data related to the skills of completers from the perspective of hiring principals. Every 7 years, accredited programs submit a report which includes pedagogical artefacts. After the TEI submits the report, a team from CAEP conducts site visits, usually accompanied by state education officials, and prepares a final report that provides the basis of its decision to accredit.
49 states and territories have signed a reciprocity agreement created by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) to recognise each other’s teacher licenses. Under the agreement, an out-of-state, licensed teacher may first receive a temporary license that allows the teacher to take a teaching position in a reciprocating state while completing additional requirements. For example, an out-of-state teacher may have been licensed in a state that uses an assessment not recognised by the state where the teacher would like to work. In that case, the teacher must take a new assessment before obtaining full certification.
According to a recent report, Support From The Start: A 50-State Review of Policies on New Educator Induction and Mentoring (2016), 29 states require support for beginning teachers and 15 of them require support beyond the first year of teaching. For instance, California is one of the 29 states that requires an induction programme; beginning teachers there must take a 2-year program called Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA). 30 states have policies that describe the qualities of an acceptable mentor teacher.