Does Preservice Preparation Matter? Examining an Old Question in New Ways

Sep. 01, 2014

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 116, October 2014, p. 1-46.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article aimed to investigate relationships between teacher preparation and teacher outcomes.

The authors used a secondary analysis of data from the two most recent administrations of the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), a nationally representative survey of teachers. They link surveyed teachers to Common Core of Data on their schools and to Barron’s ratings of college competitiveness.


These findings suggest that features of preservice teacher preparation are positively related to teacher outcomes. Teachers who completed more practice teaching and more methods-related courses felt significantly better instructionally prepared in their first year of teaching.
Moreover, among teachers who completed zero methods courses (or practice teaching), the estimated effects of practice teaching (or methods courses) were greatest in magnitude, positive, and statistically significant. As levels of preparation on either feature increased, the estimated effect of the other feature significantly decreased.

These findings suggest that the estimated effects of additional preparation on both teacher outcomes are positive and similar in magnitude across preparation routes. Moreover, teachers from more competitive colleges seem to benefit from additional preparation at least as much, if not more, than teachers from less competitive colleges. The positive estimated effects of practice teaching on instructional preparedness and of methods coursework on persistence are significantly greater among teachers from more competitive colleges.

Results suggest that estimated effects of preparation also vary by kind of school, and particularly by school level and urbanicity. Secondary school teachers, more than elementary school teachers, seem to benefit from additional preparation. The findings also indicate that estimated positive effects of preparation are stronger among teachers employed in urban and rural settings as compared to teachers in suburban settings.


This study provides some of the best suggestive evidence to date that teacher education programs, and certification policies that influence them, can improve teachers’ preparedness and persistence by increasing requirements for practice teaching and methods-related coursework.
The results suggest policy makers and program directors determine and vary levels of coursework according to requirements for practice teaching, and vice versa. If preparation of one form makes preparation of the other form less necessary, then programs may want to experiment with different ratios to determine whether maximally effective or efficient ratios exist.

The interaction between dimensions of preparation also has implications for researchers and not just policy makers. Specifically, preparation must be considered as a system of interacting features where the effects of any given feature is examined in relationship to others. By recruiting more academically or otherwise talented individuals, preparation may be less necessary. The proliferation of alternative routes of preparation reflects this simultaneous emphasis on the recruitment of talent with a de-emphasis on training.

The findings suggest that teachers from more competitive colleges benefit at least as much, if not more, from additional preparation. These findings challenge the assumption that reducing investment in training follows logically from increased investment in recruitment; rather, policies aiming to recruit academically talented individuals may benefit from a simultaneous emphasis on preparation.

Updated: Jul. 27, 2016


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