Student Teaching : Alabama

2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that teacher preparation programs provide teacher candidates with a high-quality clinical experience.

Meets in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Student Teaching : Alabama results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AL-Student-Teaching--6

Analysis of Alabama's policies

Alabama commendably requires that candidates be full-time student teachers, or "interns," for a full semester in the teaching field for which certification is sought. Their experiences must progress to the full responsibilities of the teacher for at least 20 full days, including 10 consecutive days.

The state also articulates that cooperating teachers must be "accomplished school professionals" who are properly certificated at the Class A level for their present assignment, have at least three years of educational experience in the field and currently teach classes in an intern's area of specialization. However, if a Class A teacher is not available, the unit head may make an exception and allow a teacher who meets the latter two credentials but holds a Class B license to supervise an intern.

Citation

Recommendations for Alabama

Ensure that cooperating teachers have demonstrated evidence of effectiveness as measured by student learning.
Although Alabama articulates some important requirements for cooperating teachers, the state does not address the most essential: cooperating teachers' classroom effectiveness. In addition to the ability to mentor an adult, cooperating teachers should also be carefully screened for their capacity to further student achievement. Research indicates that the only aspect of a student teaching arrangement that has been shown to have an impact on student achievement is the positive effect of selection of the cooperating teacher by the preparation program, rather than the student teacher or school district staff.

Explicitly require that student teaching be completed locally, thus prohibiting candidates from completing this requirement abroad.
Unless preparation programs can establish true satellite campuses to closely supervise student teaching arrangements, placement in foreign or otherwise novel locales should be supplementary to a standard student teaching arrangement. Outsourcing the arrangements for student teaching makes it impossible to ensure the selection of the best cooperating teacher and adequate supervision of the student teacher and may prevent training of the teacher on relevant state instructional frameworks.

State response to our analysis

Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that as of September 2011, it will be reporting individual teacher impact on student achievement in reading and mathematics. The measure will be students' scores for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. Although that information will only be available to an individual teacher and the teacher's principal, Alabama plans to consider ways to utilize the information to improve instruction without infringing on individual rights. The state is unsure whether it can use those data to help preparation programs make decisions about the selection of cooperating teachers.

Alabama noted that under its current system, preparation programs are responsible for selecting internship placements with the approval of the school system superintendent or designee. College/university personnel are also responsible for providing training for cooperating teachers. If an exception is made to allow a teacher without a master's degree to serve as a cooperating teacher, the institution must document the exception, which most often is based on National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification. Lack of an otherwise-qualified cooperating teacher within the institution's service area, usually a 50-mile radius of the campus, is another prevalent reason for exceptions.

The state also pointed out that placement of student teachers in foreign locales is rare, yet many undergraduate programs provide overseas study options. "Providing an overseas internship placement for a few qualified applicants preparing to teach might be one strategy for encouraging the best and the brightest to prepare as teachers. The internship is the culminating experience in preparing teachers, but it is preceded by numerous clinical placements during which prospective teachers learn about relevant state instructional frameworks."

How we graded

The stakes are too high for student teaching requirements to be left to chance.

Student teaching is the final clinical experience of teacher preparation, and teacher candidates have only one chance to experience the best possible placement.  Student teaching will shape their own performance as teachers and help determine the type of school in which they will choose to teach.  A mediocre student teaching experience, let alone a disastrous one, can never be undone.  

Central to the quality of the student teaching experience is the classroom teacher who serves as the teacher candidate's mentor, or cooperating teacher.  Only strong teachers with evidence of their effectiveness, as assessed by objective measures of student learning and their principals, should be able to serve as cooperating teachers.  Yet placement is much more likely to be the luck of the draw. NCTQ's recent study Student Teaching in the United States found that three out of four teacher preparation programs fail to require that cooperating teachers must be effective instructors.

Research rationale

For evidence on the importance of the selection of the cooperating teacher, particularly the benefits of selection by the preparation program, see D. Boyd, P. Grossman, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, & J. Wyckoff. (2008). "Teacher Preparation and Student Achievement," Calder Institute, Working Paper 20.

Further evidence and discussion surrounding the impact of student-teaching on student achievement can be found in NCTQ's report: Student Teaching in the United States (2011) which includes citations of all of 34 studies published since 1997 in peer-reviewed journals on student teaching.  They include: Anderson, N. A., & Radencich, M. C. (2001). The value of feedback in an early field experience: Peer, Teacher, and Supervisor coaching. Action in Teacher Education, 23(3), 66-74; Brink, B., Laguardia, A., Grisham, D. L., Granby, C., & Peck, C. A. (2001). Who needs student teachers? Action in Teacher Education, 23(3), 33-45; Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2009). Teacher Preparation and Student Achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(4), 319-343; Bullough Jr., R.V., Young, J., Erickson, L., Birrell, J. R., Clark, D. C., Egan, M. W., Berrie, C. F., Hales, V. & Smith, G. (2002). Rethinking Field Experience: Partnership teaching versus single-placement teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1), 68-80; Cochran-Smith, M . (1991). Reinventing Student Teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 42 (2), 104-118; Connor, K. R., & Killmer, N. (2001). Cohorts, Collaboration, and Community: Does Contextual Teacher Education Really Work? Action in Teacher Education, 23(3), 46-53; Danne, C. J. (2000). Clinical Master Teacher Program: Teachers and Interns Perceptions of Supervision with Limited University Intervention. Action in Teacher Education, 22, 93-100; Fresse, A. R. (1991). The role of reflection on pre-service teacher's development in the context of a professional development school. Teaching and Teacher Education, 12, 429-442. Grossman, P., Hammereness, K. M., McDonald, M., & Ronfeldt, M. (2008). Structural Predictors of Perceptions of Coherence in NYC Teacher Education Programs. Journal on Teacher Education, 20(10), 273-287; Hopkins, W. S., Hoffman, S. Q., & Moss, V. D. (1997). Professional development schools and pre-service teacher stress. Action in Teacher Education, 18(4), 36-46; Lesley, M. K., Hamman, D., Olivarez, A., Button, K. & Griffith, R. (2009). "I'm Prepared for Anything Now." Student teacher and cooperating teacher interactions as a critical factor in determining the preparation of quality elementary reading teachers. The Teacher Educator, 44 (1), 40-55; Justen, J. E., III, Mc Junkin, M., & Strickland, H. (1991). Supervisory beliefs of cooperating teachers. The Teacher Educator, 34(3), 173-180; Kent, S. I. (2001). Supervision of Student Teachers: Practices of Cooperating Teachers Prepared in a Clinical Supervision Course. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 16, 228-244; Knight, S. L., Wiseman, D. L., & Cooner, D. (2000). Using collaborative teacher research to determine the impact of professional development school activities on elementary student's math and writing outcomes. Journal of Teacher Education, 51, 26-38; Knoblauch, D., & Woolfolk-Hoy, A. (2008). "Maybe I can teach those kids." The influence of contextual factors on student teachers efficacy. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 166-179. Knudson, R. E., & Turley, S. (2000). University supervisors and at-risk student teachers. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 33, 175-186.Korthagen, F., Loughran, J., Russell, T. (2006). Developing fundamental principles for teacher education programs and practices. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(8), 1020-1041. McNay, M. & Graham, R. (2007). Can Cooperating Teachers Help Student Teachers Develop a Vision of Education?  The Teacher Educator, 42(3), 224-236.Student Teaching in the United States, 2011; Mewborn, D. S. (1991). Learning to Teach Elementary Mathematics: Ecological Elements of a Field Experience. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 3(1), 27-46. Mule, L. (2006). Preservice teacher's inquiry in a professional development school context: Implications for the practicum. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(2), 205-218; Nguyen, H.T. (2009). An inquiry-based practicum model: What knowledge, practices, and relationships typify empowering teaching and learning experiences for student teachers, cooperating teachers and college supervisors? Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5), 655-662; Pence, H. M., & Macgillivary, K. I. (2008). The impact of an international field experience on pre-service teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 14-25; Peterson, B. E., & Williams, S. R. (2008). Learning Mathematics for Teaching in the Student in Teaching Experience: Two contrasting cases. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 11(6), 459-478. Putman, M.S. (2009). Grappling with Classroom Management: The Orientations of Preservice Teachers and Impact of Student Teaching. The Teacher Educator, 44(4), 232-247. Richardson-Koehler, V. (1988). Barriers to the Effective Supervision of Student Teaching: A Field Study. Journal of Teacher Education, 39(2), 28-34; Ridley, D.S., Hurwitz, S., Hackett, S. & Miller, K.K. (2005). Comparing PDS and Campus Based Preservice Teacher Preparation: Is PDS-based preparation really better? Journal of Teacher Education, 56(1), 46-56; Rodgers, A., & Virginia, K. L. (2007). Restructuring a traditional student teacher supervision model: Fostering enhanced professional development and mentoring within a professional development school context. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(1), 63-80; Roth-McDuffie, A. (2004). Mathematics Teaching as a Deliberate Practice: An Investigation of Elementary Pre-service Teachers 
Reflective Thinking During Student Teaching. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7(1), 33-61; Sandholtz, J. H., & Wasserman, K. (2001). Student and Cooperating Teachers: Contrasting experiences in teacher preparation. Action in Teacher Education, 23(3), 54-65. Slick, S. K. (1997). Assessing versus assisting: The supervisor's role in the complex dynamics of the students teaching triad. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13, 713-726; Tellez, K. (2008). What student teachers learn about multicultural education from their cooperating teachers? Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 43-58; Tillema, H. H. (2009). Assessment for Learning to Teach. Appraisal of Practice Teaching Lessons by Mentors, Supervisors, and Student Teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(2), 28-34; Valencia, S. W., Martin, S. D., Place, N. A. & Grossman, P. (2009). Complex Interactions in Student Teaching: Lost Opportunities for Learning. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(3), 304-322; White, S. (2009). Articulation and Re-articulation: Development of a model for providing quality feedback to pre-service teachers on practicum. Journal of Education for Teaching, 35(2), 123-132.See also Levine, A. (September 2006). Educating school teachers (p. 39). Washington, DC: The Education Schools Project; Guyton, E., & McIntyre, D.J. (1990). Student teaching and school experiences. In W. R. Houston (Ed.). Handbook of research on teacher education. New York: Macmillan.