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Journal for Effective Schools

Volume 11, Number 1

Research on traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs and student achievement. Positive relationships exist between teacher preparation and teacher effectiveness. An influential review of 57 rigorous teacher preparation programs identified positive empirical relationships between teacher qualifications and student achievement across studies using different units of analysis and different measures of preparation as well as in studies controlling for students’ socioeconomic status and prior academic performance (Wilson, Floden, & FerriniMundy, 2001). Further, the review found that alternate preparation routes attracted a diverse pool of candidates, with a mixed record for attracting the “best and brightest” whose performance evaluations showed mixed results. Nonetheless, the study concluded that teachers who come through high-quality alternative and traditional teacher preparation routes show some similarities (Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001). Many alternatively prepared teachers agree that they may not be effective in producing student achievement. A survey by the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality compared responses of randomly sampled first-year teachers from three alternative programs, Teach for America (TFA), New Teacher Project (NTP), and Troops for Teachers (T3) with those of first-year traditionally prepared teachers also teaching in high-needs schools. Only 46% of the alternate route teachers said they were prepared for their first year of teaching, compared with 80% of the traditionally prepared teachers (Immerwahr, Doble, Johnson, Rochkind & Ott, 2007). Notably, however, newer, well-designed investigations have determined that teacher preparation can make a measurable difference in student achievement – especially in the first year in the classroom – and certain TPP characteristics appear to positively shape teaching effectiveness. But with a few years of classroom experience, the differences in teacher effectiveness from varying preparation programs appear to fade (Boyd et al., 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). One longitudinal study examined individual-level data for three different teacher training programs for New York City teachers – Teach for America (TFA), New York Teaching Fellows (NYTF), and traditional 4-year college preparation programs – and the effect of teachers’ qualifications on student achievement. Findings show that graduates of collegiate preparation programs were significantly more effective than teachers lacking certification and performed better than NYTF and TFA teachers during their first year in the classroom (Boyd, Grossman, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2006; Darling-Hammond, Holtzman, Gatlin, & Heilig, 2005; Kane, Rockoff & Staiger, 2006). Moreover, in this same study, certain preparation program and teacher characteristics (e.g., curricula that focused more on the work in the classroom, 7

Journal for Effective Schools - Spring 2013  

Vol. 11, #1