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Teacher Preparation Experiences and Early Teaching Effectiveness


  • Can we identify preparation experiences that are related to teaching effectiveness?
  • Abt launched a major study of teachers’ experiences during preparation.
  • Abt found that some preparation experiences were related to effectiveness.
The Challenge

Teachers can make a real difference in students’ outcomes. However, teacher quality varies greatly. New teachers, who frequently begin their careers in high-need schools where students are in greatest need of effective instruction, have been shown to be less effective than more experienced teachers. The U.S. Department of Education designed this study to explore the types of preparation experiences that teachers received and whether these experiences were related to their effectiveness as novice teachers. 

The Approach

Abt surveyed nearly 3,300 teachers from 242 districts in 18 states about the frequency of their preparation experiences through four ways of learning - coursework, observation, practice teaching, and feedback on practice teaching. Abt examined the relationship between teachers’ preparation experiences and their effectiveness in their first three years of teaching. The sample included fourth through sixth grade teachers responsible for instruction in English language arts (ELA), math, or both. The study estimated teaching effectiveness using value-added modeling.

The Results

The study found that of the four ways of learning—coursework, observation, practice and feedback—teachers’ preparation experiences most frequently included coursework and least frequently included receiving feedback on their practice.

Teachers were asked about the frequency of preparation experiences with specific teaching strategies that spanned two categories of classroom instruction—Creating a Productive Learning Environment and Promoting Analytic Thinking Skills—through the four ways of learning.  

The study found that practice in strategies related to Creating a Productive Learning Environment was the only way of learning related to teaching effectiveness in ELA and math. Having more preparation experience with strategies related to Promoting Analytic Thinking Skills—through any of the four ways of learning—was unrelated to teaching effectiveness.

Final Report and Supplemental Documents

Teacher Preparation Experiences and Early Teaching Effectiveness