Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Preparation and Education of First-Year Teachers: A Case Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Preparation and Education of First-Year Teachers: A Case Study

Article excerpt

Teacher preparation programs are tasked with educating and preparing high-quality, effective teachers to meet the needs of students in diverse classrooms throughout the United States. These programs are held to accreditation standards and licensing requirements that articulate what their graduates should know and be able to do (Darling-Hammond, 2016). According to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), teacher preparation programs must provide evidence that their graduates are positively impacting student growth and achievement, displaying evidence of effective teaching, and that the graduates and their employers are satisfied with their preparation and performance in order to receive nationally recognized accredited status (CAEP, 2013). While these mandates from CAEP are relatively new, they are changing the way in which teacher preparation programs prepare and track their graduates. There must be systems in place to follow graduates into their first years of teaching in order to assess the impact that graduates are making on their students' growth and achievement, evidence of their effective teaching strategies, and feedback from graduates regarding their preparation and from their employers regarding their satisfaction with the graduate's performance. While the main incentive of meeting CAEP's policy is accreditation, knowing how well their graduates were prepared for the teaching profession, as well as holes that need to be filled in in order for better prepation and satisfaction, may provide teacher preparation programs with information they need to improve their programs.

In order to provide an analysis of the CAEP policy, a qualitative case study was conducted to explore the experiences of recent teacher graduates across the state of Colorado throughout their first year of teaching. The analysis followed the model from the CAEP policy which requires evidence of effective teaching, perceptions of recent graduates regarding preparation, and impact on student growth. The research questions were answered through interviews as the first-year teachers described their preparation, their needs, their level of confidence in all areas of teaching, and how they could have been better or more prepared for the classroom. In addition, observations of the first-year teachers instructing in their classrooms were conducted and evaluated using the Colorado Teacher Quality Standards rubric, which is the template for the annual teacher evaluations in Colorado. Also, each teacher's annual evaluation from the end of their first year of teaching was analyzed to provide more information regarding her impact on student growth and evidence of effective teaching strategies.

Literature Review

The renewed focus on teacher quality in the United States has heightened the attention on teacher prepration programs and the ways in which these programs are training new teachers for a diverse and changing world, and researchers and policymakers have criticized teacher preparation programs for not preparing high-quality educators that are ready for the demands of the classroom (Darling-Hammond, 2014a; Good, 2014; Levine, 2006; Mehta & Doctor, 2013). Programs have been criticized for low admission and graduation standards, outdated curriculum and instruction, and the lack of effective student teaching experiences (Chelsey & Jordan, 2012; Greenberg, McKee, & Walsh, 2013; Mehta & Doctor, 2014; Wong & Glass, 2011). The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) adopted new standards in 2013 for accreditation in response to the criticisms regarding teacher preparation programs. The standards required all teacher preparation programs to set minimum criteria for admissions, include rigorous instruction in content and pedagogy, and to develop strong partnerships with elementary and secondary schools where their preservice teachers complete their student teaching experience. …

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