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Article: How to Choose an Effective Teacher Preparation Program

The editors of Go Teach magazine recently turned to AACTE to help prospective teacher candidates navigate the proliferation of conflicting visions of what constitutes effective teacher preparation. In response, my colleague Saroja Barnes and I coauthored an article for the magazine that ran in the November/December issue as the cover story, “How to Choose an Effective Teacher Preparation Program.”  

Based on relevant research on teacher preparation, the article points to several key components of high-quality programs that potential teacher candidates should consider. Structured by seven key questions, the article guides prospective candidates to think through the following issues when exploring teacher preparation pathways:

  1. Does the program offer courses and clinical experiences that will prepare candidates to support the learning of students from diverse ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds, as well as students with special needs?
  2. Will the program provide opportunities to learn both subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge and apply them to a real-world setting?
  3. How will prospective teachers learn to develop valid student assessments and use assessment data to improve instruction and student learning?
  4. What measures will the program use to assess candidates’ readiness to teach?
  5. How are clinical experiences structured, and what is their duration?
  6. How are cooperating teachers selected and trained to coach teacher candidates?
  7. Does the program have collaborative partnerships with school districts that support an effective pipeline of educator talent into PK-12 schools?

Ultimately, we write, future teacher candidates should decide what preparation program is right for them by asking the most salient question: Does a particular program prepare future teachers to meet the challenges of PK-12 classrooms and positively impact student achievement? By homing in on the critical areas identified by research, potential candidates can weed through the questionable advice emanating from various sources and gather information that is truly useful to them in making an informed decision.

Go Teach is the official magazine for the Future Educators Association (FEA), an organization for high school students interested in education careers. The magazine focuses on information about careers in education and helps to ensure that future educators will begin their careers with the skills and experiences they need to change lives.

Although selected articles from Go Teach are available online, this article is not currently among them. To request a print issue of Go Teach, visit FEA’s membership web site. For questions about the article, please contact Saroja Barnes at sbarnes@aacte.org or me at jmilton@aacte.org.

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Jessica Milton

Associate Director of Education Writing and Research, AACTE