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Title II Data Show Student Teaching Hours Vary by Program Type, but Differing Definitions Hinder Comparisons

Editor’s note: As AACTE moves from collecting information through the Professional Education Data System (PEDS) to tapping other nationally available data sources on educator preparation, we will be providing periodic data reports on Ed Prep Matters based on PEDS, federal collections such as Title II and SASS, and other sources.

The U.S. Department of Education collects data annually from states on teacher certification/licensure programs of all kinds, as mandated by Sections 205 through 208 of the Title II of the Higher Education Act. Assembling information on programs that are “traditional” and “alternative,” based both inside and outside of institutions of higher education (IHEs), the Title II data collection aims to provide a comprehensive view of the field of teacher preparation.

The amount of time teacher candidates spend in their clinical experiences, one of the topics of the Title II collection, is an ongoing area of professional and public interest. While all supervised clinical experiences are important to prepare candidates for the classroom, their culminating experience of student teaching is the segment when candidates apply their prior learning in a final “dress rehearsal” before taking on responsibilities as teachers of record. The Title II data on student teaching can help us understand how much time candidates spend in this key exercise.

Assuming a 35-hour work week, during the 2010 to 2014 Title II reporting years, candidates completing a traditional teacher preparation program spent, on average, 15 weeks student teaching. Candidates completing an alternative IHE-based program averaged 18.6 weeks, and those enrolled in alternative, non-IHE-based programs spent an average of 22.6 weeks student teaching (see charts).

Average Weeks of Student Teaching by Program Type: 2010-2014 Survey Years

Number of Responses

Program type20102011201220132014
Alternative, IHE-based318324378359349
Alternative, not IHE-based91160169171158

Source: Title II, 2010 to 2014.

At a glance, candidates in alternative, non-IHE-based programs seemed to spend significantly more time student teaching than those in other types of programs. While teacher contracts vary from district to district, they usually cover between 180 and 190 days per year, which roughly translate into 36-38 weeks per school year or 18-19 weeks per semester. This semester length aligns more closely with the student teaching period of candidates enrolled in traditional and IHE-based alternative programs, whereas the numbers for non-IHE-based alternative programs average longer than one semester.

Definitions around student teaching need to be clarified, however, to uncover what these numbers truly indicate. A common national lexicon about what is being reported would allow more useful comparisons across states, which currently set varying definitions. This improvement to data quality would help us understand details such as whether placements in internships or full employment, characteristic of some alternative programs, are included in student teaching reporting, and not only the hours but the length of the period (school-year-long or semester-long) of student teaching.

Looking to learn more about these data? Visit the official Title II web page for state-by-state data, reports, tools, and more.

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Sungti Hsu

Director of State Affiliate and Partnership Support

Yupin Bae