Study: Student progress can be tied to teacher education

Student test scores should be a part of how teacher education programs are evaluated, Tom Stritikus said, but he feels there should be multiple measures.

”What we’re really after here is changing and improving practice,” Stritikus said. He believes Goldhaber’s study could help put them on the path toward that goal, but the university’s program is also moving toward a much deeper emphasis on gaining practical skills for working in a classroom.

The University of Washington study found that less than 1 percent of the differences between teachers seemed to be linked to where they got their training. But the difference in associated student test scores from the best to the worst teacher education programs was roughly equivalent to a reduction in class size of between five and 10 students. So hiring a teacher from the best training program could be equivalent to shrinking a class by five to 10 students.

Goldhaber is quick to point out this research does not reveal why one teacher education program is superior to another. Part of the difference could be attributed to how selective a program is in choosing its students.

The research also found that programs change over time, and some have improved their teacher outcomes in more recent years.

”That is a hopeful finding,” Goldhaber said, because it leads researchers to the next step in their work: taking a closer look at the changes in teacher education over time in order to determine whether they are actually improving teacher effectiveness.

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