General Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that teacher preparation programs provide teacher candidates with a high quality clinical experience. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Cooperating Teacher Requirements:
California's program standards require that cooperating teachers must have a clear credential in the content area and three years of experience teaching in the content area and grade level. The cooperating teacher "must have demonstrated exemplary teaching practices as determined by the employer and the preparation program." However, program standards do not require that cooperating teachers be rated effective based on the state's evaluation system.
Clinical Practice Duration: California requires that the clinical practice program be at least 600 hours. However this duration includes "supervised early field experiences, initial student teaching (co-planning and co-teaching with both general educators and Education specialists, as appropriate, or guided teaching), and final student teaching." The state further clarifies that the clinical practice program includes at least four weeks of solo student teaching.
California also allows candidates to meet their professional preparation requirements with certification from a Peace Corps director verifying that they have completed at least 18 months in an assignment in a foreign country, with 50 percent or more of duties consisting of classroom teaching of resident children.
Clinical Practice Assignment: California does not specify that a teacher candidate's clinical practice experience take place in the grade level(s) on the license sought. Programs that offer dual licensure in general and special education are required to provide experiences in both general and inclusive settings.
California Education Code, Section 44320, 44322 Program Sponsor Alert 15-07 https://www.ctc.ca.gov/docs/default-source/educator-prep/ps-alerts/2015/psa-15-07.pdf?sfvrsn=8305c5ea_0 Single Subject and Multiple Subject Preliminary Credential Program Standards (2015) https://www.ctc.ca.gov/educator-prep/stds-prep-program
Ensure that cooperating teachers have demonstrated evidence of effectiveness as measured by student learning.
Cooperating teachers in California should be carefully screened for their ability to further student achievement. Research indicates that student teachers benefit most when cooperating teachers are selected by the preparation program rather than by the student teacher or school district staff.
Require teacher candidates to spend at least 10 weeks student teaching.
California should require a summative clinical experience for all prospective teachers. Student teaching should be a full-time commitment; requiring coursework and student teaching simultaneously does a disservice to both.
Specify that clinical practice experiences take place in the setting of the license sought.
Although California may intend that teachers complete their clinical practice experience in the setting of the license they are seeking, without clearly requiring that teachers do so, it may be possible for teachers to fulfill these requirements in any setting.
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 the teacher on relevant state instructional frameworks.
California declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.
1E: Student Teaching
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 by their principals, should be able to serve as cooperating teachers. Yet placement is much more likely to be the luck of the draw. Reports by NCTQ, including Student Teaching in the United States and the Teacher Prep Review,
found most teacher preparation programs fail to require that cooperating teachers must be effective instructors.