- Preservice teachers assigned to classrooms with highly rated educators — or cooperating teachers — are more likely to be effective in their early years of teaching, according to a recent article appearing in the journal Educational Researcher.
- The study, focusing on 2,869 pre-service teachers from 21 teacher education programs, made use of Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system, which included using student test score growth and classroom observations. The researchers, led by Matthew Ronfeldt of the University of Michigan, found that the observation ratings for cooperating teachers were “significant predictors” of the pre-service teachers’ future ratings.
- In general, increases in cooperating teachers’ value-added results were associated with increases in value-added scores for the beginning teachers. “These preliminary findings suggest that more instructionally effective [cooperating teachers] not only model better instruction but also provide better coaching to learning teachers and are thus not only consistent with a causal explanation but are indicative of possible causal mechanisms,” the authors wrote.
School leaders share responsibility with teachers for raising student performance, and one way to reach those goals is to create conditions that allow novice teachers to be more successful in their early years in the classroom. Matching “student teachers” with a school’s most effective teachers is one way to ensure that early-career educators learn the instructional strategies and lesson planning methods that most contribute to higher student performance. This attention to matching beginning teachers with strong experienced educators is likely even more important in high-poverty schools, where novice educators tend to have students with the most needs.
The authors of the study suggest that findings have implications for the way districts choose cooperating teachers. Instead of selecting those with more years of experience — a common qualification — they suggest focusing on direct measures of a teacher’s performance.