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:
New Mexico does not address the qualifications of cooperating teachers.
Clinical Practice Duration: New Mexico requires candidates to complete no less than 14 weeks of student teaching, with one portion taking place in the first 30 credit hours in the college of education and another portion occurring during the candidate's senior year.
Clinical Practice Assignment: New Mexico specifies that a teacher candidate's clinical practice experience must take place in the grade level(s) on the license sought. However, the state does not specify that clinical practice experience for the special education PreK-12 license or the elementary K-8 license should occur at multiple grade levels.
N.M.S.A. 22-10A-6 NMAC 6.61.2 through .12
Ensure that cooperating teachers have demonstrated evidence of effectiveness as measured by student learning.
Cooperating teachers in New Mexico 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.
Use evidence from the state's teacher evaluation system to select cooperating teachers.
New Mexico requires consideration of some objective measures of student growth in its teacher evaluation system. The state should therefore require that evaluation results, which provide evidence of effectiveness in the classroom, be used to select effective cooperating teachers.
Require teacher candidates to spend at least 10 weeks student teaching.
New Mexico 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. The state's current policy regarding student teaching does not ensure at least a 10-week summative experience. Although it is wise and important to make sure that candidates get practical exposure early on and throughout their preparation, the language in the New Mexico statute allows programs to shortchange the portion that matters most.
Require clinical practice experience in at least two different developmental grade levels for licenses with overly broad grade spans.
Given the broad range of students included under New Mexico's K-8 elementary and K-12 special education, it is important that the state's clinical practice requirements include experience in multiple grade levels. It is especially critical for special education teacher candidates to gain experience with a variety of students with disabilities across the spectrum, and in multiple grade levels.
New Mexico asserted that the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) requires a minimum of 14 weeks of clinical experience for all candidates, a month longer than the recommended 10 weeks at grade content level. The state also noted that part of the data system NMPED is building in partnership with the educator preparation programs (EPP), will allow EPP's the ability to match candidate preferences for student teaching experiences with highly effective or exemplary teachers as identified through NMTEACH. In addition, NMPED stated that it is working with deans, directors, and professors at colleges of education to expand upon the NMTEACH rubric to account for preservice teacher performance.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
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.