Teacher Candidate Apprenticeships: Assessing the Who and Where of Student Teaching

March 1, 2020

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume: 71 issue: 2, page(s): 218-232

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors provide the first large-scale empirical analysis of the sorting of student teachers to specific cooperating teachers (CTs) using a unique database of student teachers from 14 of the 21 teacher education programs (TEPs) that place student teachers in Washington State public schools.
They connect these student teachers to administrative data on K-12 students and teachers in public schools in Washington to better understand the school- and teacher-level factors predicting where teacher candidates’ internships take place and which teachers supervise them (i.e., which teachers serve as their CTs).
This is important because, as they note there is evidence connecting characteristics of internship schools and CTs to the later effectiveness of those teacher candidates who become teachers.

Data Sources

The data the authors utilize combine student teaching data from institutions participating in the Teacher Education Learning Collaborative (TELC) with K-12 administrative data provided by Washington State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
The TELC data include information from 14 of the state’s 21 college and university based TEPs and provide information about teacher candidates themselves (e.g., race/ethnicity and gender) as well as data about when student teaching occurred, the schools in which teacher candidates completed their student teaching, and the CTs that supervised their internships.
They focus on student teaching data from 2009-2010 to 2014-2015 because nearly all TEPs provided complete data about their teacher candidates over this time period.
In total, the TELC data they utilize include information on 8,077 teacher candidates.

Findings and discussion
This article provides the first statewide empirical evidence of the factors that determine which teachers and schools host student teachers.
The authors find considerable homophilies between CTs and their student teachers along racial, gender, and educational backgrounds. For instance, student teachers are much more likely to be trained by teachers who attended the same TEP, who share the same gender, and who are of the same race/ethnicity.
These homophilies are very strong relative to factors which might traditionally be associated with supervising student teachers such as experience, academic degree, and licensure test scores.
In addition, the authors find that teacher candidates are more likely to train with teachers who have higher value added in math, in schools with more openings the following year, and in schools with lower rates of teacher turnover across years.
They characterize these results as encouraging given the empirical evidence connecting school openings (Goldhaber et al., 2017), school stay ratios (Ronfeldt, 2012), and CT value added (Goldhaber et al., 2018b; Ronfeldt, Brockman, & Campbell, 2018) to future workforce entry, effectiveness, and retention.
Importantly, however, the fact that student teaching occurs in schools and with teachers who are associated with positive future outcomes does not imply student teacher placements are optimized. Specifically, there are a large number of promising classrooms where student teachers are not hosted, and there tend to be geographic holes in parts of Washington that train few future teachers.
These holes may have important teacher equity implications given the locality of teacher labor markets (Boyd et al., 2005; Krieg et al., 2016; Reininger, 2012).
The authors note that it is possible that the strong homophilies between racial, gender, and education backgrounds could preclude potential student teacher placements that would be even more beneficial to the candidate.
For instance, placing student teachers with CTs who graduated from the same TEP might be advantageous in the sense that placement officials likely know more about CTs coming from their own program, but it also substantially limits the field of potential CTs to a small subset of possible teachers and thus restricts the type of experiences a student teacher might encounter.
There may be additional benefits to student teaching under a teacher who was trained in a different program such as a different perspective on the theory of teaching or approaches to dealing with children.
Similar arguments can be made for placement based upon race/ethnicity and gender of the CT.
Finally, the positive sorting of student teachers with high licensure test scores to CTs with high licensures test scores has two important implications.
First, this provides evidence that more-qualified teacher candidates are more likely to be assigned to a more-qualified CT, either through their own efforts or through the efforts of their TEP.
Second, this nonrandom sorting complicates ongoing and future research about the relationships between CT qualifications and future student teacher outcomes; for example, findings relating CT effectiveness to future student teacher effectiveness could be driven by this nonrandom sorting and not by the impact of being supervised by a more effective teacher.
Thus, future research will need to account for this nonrandom sorting to investigate these important relationships.

Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2005). The draw of home: How teachers’ preferences for proximity disadvantage urban schools. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 24(1), 113-132.
Goldhaber, D., Krieg, J., & Theobald, R. (2017). Does the match matter? Exploring whether student teaching experiences affect teacher effectiveness. American Educational Research Journal, 54(2), 325-359.
Goldhaber, D., Krieg, J., & Theobald, R. (2018b). Exploring the impact of student teaching apprenticeships on student achievement and mentor teachers (CALDER Working Paper 207- 1118-1). Retrieved from https://caldercenter.org/publications /exploring-impact-student-teaching-apprenticeships-student -achievement-and-mentor
Krieg, J., Theobald, R., & Goldhaber, D. (2016). A foot in the door: Exploring the role of student teaching assignments in teachers’ initial job placements. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38(2), 364-388.
Reininger, M. (2012). Hometown disadvantage? It depends on where you’re from. Teachers’ location preferences and the implications for staffing schools. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(2), 127-145.
Ronfeldt, M. (2012). Where should student teachers learn to teach? Effects of field placement school characteristics on teacher retention and effectiveness. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(1), 3-26.
Ronfeldt, M., Brockman, S., & Campbell, S. (2018). Does cooperating teachers’ instructional effectiveness improve preservice teachers’ future performance? Educational Researcher, 47, 405-418. 

Updated: Feb. 17, 2021


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