Student Teaching/Clinical Practice :

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs 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.

Best Practice

Analysis of Massachusetts's policies

Cooperating Teacher Requirements: Cooperating teachers in Massachusetts must have three years' experience under an appropriate initial or professional license and have received an evaluation rating of proficient or higher.

Clinical Practice Duration:
Massachusetts requires all teacher candidates to complete 300 hours of a practicum or practicum equivalent, and they must assume full responsibility for the classroom for a minimum of 100 hours.

The state defines a practicum as "a field-based experience within an approved program in the role and at the level of the license sought, during which a candidate's performance is supervised jointly by the sponsoring organization and the supervising practitioner and evaluated in a Performance Assessment for Initial License."

Clinical Practice Assignment: Massachusetts specifically requires that candidates complete their student teaching in the setting that matches the license sought. The state further specifies that clinical practice experience for the mild-to-moderate disabilities license must occur in both general education inclusive settings and "separate or substantially separate setting for students with moderate disabilities." Massachusetts requires that PreK-2 early childhood education candidates complete their clinical practice experience at the PreK-K and grades 1-2 levels, and that "at least one setting must include children with disabilities."

Massachusetts also articulates that all practicum must be completed within a Massachusetts public school, approved private special education school, Massachusetts Department of Early Education Care approved preschools, educational collaboratives, or a school that requires a Massachusetts educator licensure.


Recommendations for Massachusetts

As a result of Massachusetts's strong student teaching policies, no recommendations are provided.

State response to our analysis

Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also indicated that it has recently revised the regulations for licensure and program approval. These changes were approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Among the changes, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received the authority to build out a more robust set of guidelines governing the pre-practicum experience (early clinical before student teaching).

Massachusetts stated that it is in the midst of crafting that policy with input from the field. The state anticipates making policy guidance around the amount of time candidates must participate in these early clinical experiences, how they are supervised and assessed, and what activities they must engage in to ensure the most meaningful and productive experience. In addition, Massachusetts stated that it is currently the only state (that it knows of) exploring a performance based assessment for the role of supervisor. The state will pilot this assessment with at least 200 supervisors in the upcoming year.

How we graded

1E: Student Teaching 

  • Selection of Cooperating Teachers: The state should require that all student teachers be placed with cooperating teachers for whom there is evidence of effectiveness as measured by demonstrated success in improving student outcomes.
  • Length and Specificity of Student Teaching: The state should require all teacher candidates to spend at least 10 weeks student teaching at the appropriate grade level(s).
Selection of Cooperating Teachers
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it selects cooperating teachers based on evidence of effectiveness as measured by student learning gains.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it selects cooperating teachers based on on their evaluation ratings, but the state's evaluation system is not based on measures of student growth. The state may also earn one-quarter of a point if it selects cooperating teachers based on factors approaching effectiveness.
Length and Specificity of Student Teaching
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point when student teaching is at least 10 weeks and full time and specifies experience in the grade span for the certificate sought. A state with broad grade spans (e.g., K-8, K-12) will earn one-half a point if it requires 10 weeks of student teaching and specifies that at least 10 weeks of student teaching includes experience at multiple grade levels. 
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point when student teaching is at least 10 weeks, but it does not specifically require the experience to match the grade span of the certificate sought. A state with broad grade spans (e.g. K-8, K-12) may also earn one-quarter of a point if it specifically requires clinical practice experience at multiple grade levels.

Research rationale

The stakes are too high for student teaching requirements to be left to chance.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

[1] For evidence on the importance of the selection of the cooperating teacher, particularly the benefits of selection by the preparation program as well as the importance of congruence between the student teacher's placement grade and her first teaching assignment, see Boyd, D. J., Grossman, P. L., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2009). Teacher preparation and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(4), 416-440. Retrieved from
[2] Further evidence and discussion surrounding the impact of student-teaching on student achievement can be found in NCTQ's report: Greenberg, J., Pomerance, L., & Walsh, K. (2011). Student teaching in the United States. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from; To explore additional studies published in peer-reviewed journals on student teaching, see 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., Grisham, D. L., Laguardia, A., Granby, C., & Peck, C. A. (2001). Who needs student teachers? Action in Teacher Education, 23(3), 33-45.; Boyd, D. J., Grossman, P. L., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2009). Teacher preparation and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(4), 416-440.; Bullough Jr, R. V., Young, J., Erickson, L., Birrell, J. R., Clark, D. C., Egan, M. W., ... & 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.; Daane, C. J. (2000). Clinical master teacher program: Teachers' and interns' perceptions of supervision with limited university intervention. Action in Teacher Education, 22(1), 93-100.; Freese, A. R. (1999). The role of reflection on preservice teachers' development in the context of a professional development school. Teaching and Teacher Education, 15(8), 895-909.; Grossman, P., Hammerness, K. M., McDonald, M., & Ronfeldt, M. (2008). Constructing coherence: Structural predictors of perceptions of coherence in NYC teacher education programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 59(4), 273-287.; Hopkins, W. S., Hoffman, S. Q., & Moss, V. D. (1997). Professional development schools and preservice 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 interaction as a critical factor in determining the preparation of "quality" elementary reading teachers. The Teacher Educator, 44(1), 40-55.; Justen III, J. E., McJunkin, M., & Strickland, H. (1999). 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(3), 228-44.; Knight, S. L., Wiseman, D. L., & Cooner, D. (2000). Using collaborative teacher research to determine the impact of professional development school activities on elementary students' math and writing outcomes. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(1), 26-38.; Knoblauch, D., & Hoy, A. W. (2008). "Maybe I can teach those kids": The influence of contextual factors on student teachers' efficacy beliefs. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 166-179.
[3] For information about the role and importance of quality cooperating teachers, see: Slick, S. K. (1997). Assessing versus assisting: The supervisor's roles in the complex dynamics of the student teaching triad. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13(7), 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), 155-167.; 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. (2006). Educating school teachers. Education Schools Project. Retrieved from
[4] Houston, W. R. (1990). Handbook of research on teacher education: A project of the association of teacher educators. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Co.; For additional information on the impacts of field experience and its role in teacher preparation programs, see: Knudson, R. E., & Turley, S. (2000). University supervisors and at-risk student teachers. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 33(3), 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.; Greenberg, J., Pomerance, L., & Walsh, K. (2011). Student teaching in the United States. National Council on Teacher Quality.
Retrieved from; Mewborn, D. S. (2000). Learning to teach elementary mathematics: Ecological elements of a field experience. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 3(1), 27-46.; Mule, L. (2006). Preservice teachers' 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., & Macgillivray, I. K. (2008). The impact of an international field experience on preservice teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 14-25.; Peterson, B. E., & Williams, S. R. (2008). Learning mathematics for teaching in the student teaching experience: Two contrasting cases. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 11(6), 459-478.; Putman, S. M. (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, M. R. D., & 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., & Keil, V. 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.; McDuffie, A. R. (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 programs. Action in Teacher Education, 23(3), 54-65.
[5] Greenberg, J., Pomerance, L., & Walsh, K. (2011). Student teaching in the United States. National Council on Teacher Quality.
Retrieved from; National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017, May). Landscapes in teacher prep: Undergraduate secondary. National Council on Teacher Quality's Teacher Prep Review. Retrieved from