How much field work should teacher candidates do? Somewhere between 0 and 800 hours...

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Every year, teacher preparation programs submit survey information about their licensure programs to states, which in turn submit institution- and state-level data to the feds as part of the Title II compliance process. Buried in the most recent report (2010), is an interesting statistic for each ed school: the average number of hours teacher candidates spend in supervised field work experiences prior to student teaching.

Field work includes all the experiences teacher candidates have in schools before the culminating experience of practice teaching as a student teacher. Typically part of a course, these experiences are intended to connect classroom theory to real world application.

Even the most cursory of glances at hours reported by programs (section I.D) reveals a tremendous amount of variation, even within particular states. So we wondered: what does this look like nationally?

Below is a table that summarizes, by state, the range and average number of reported field work hours for all ed schools in the state. For example, in New York several ed schools report that they don't require any field work hours, while another requires 560 hours, and the state average is 136 hours.

To be clear: NCTQ has no position that a certain number of field work hours is the "right" amount. But these data illustrate a point we've made many times about teacher preparation: In too many areas, anything goes. Programs must adhere to their state requirements and standards, and many also meet accreditation standards. Yet these criteria, when applied to evaluate the design and sequencing of field work, result in approval of programs with  wildly disparate field work requirements in most states. 

Title II State Field Work Range, Averages