Much has been written about teacher preparation over the last three decades. From blue-ribbon panels to economists to preparation providers themselves, we now have comparisons across schools, districts, states, and countries. The findings are sometimes contradictory (e.g., the importance of clinical experiences vs. content expertise vs. pedagogical preparation), but all of them point to the importance of preparation as a means to improve education for all students. The studies that follow highlight gaps in the knowledge base, different types of providers, different means of preparation, and program outcomes. They are helpful in this regard, but most of them offer their findings cautiously. Until we have clearer evidence of the student outcomes we want to observe, we will struggle to identify teaching quality, which will necessarily complicate improvement to teacher preparation. These studies help point us in the right direction but certainly much more work is needed.

Bastian, K. C., Sun, M., & Lynn, H. (2021). What do surveys of program completers tell us about teacher preparation quality? Journal of Teacher Education, 72(1), 11–26.

The authors use statewide completer survey data from North Carolina to assess whether perceptions of preparation quality and opportunities to learn during teacher preparation predict completers’ value-added estimates, evaluation ratings, and retention. They found that completer perceptions are modestly associated with teacher effectiveness and retention.

Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2009). Teacher preparation and student achievement. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(4), 416–440.

The researchers link teacher preparation to teachers’ value-added effect on student test scores. The results indicate variation across programs and find that direct links to practice in preparation benefit teachers in their first year.

Cochran-Smith, M., & Villegas, A. M. (2015). Framing teacher preparation research: An overview of the field, part I. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(1), 7–20. Retrieved from

This is the first part of a two-part article (see below for second part) that examines research on initial teacher preparation studies from 2000-2012. This updates the work of many of the research teams in this annotated bibliography. The review examined 1,500 studies and charts the landscape of research on teacher preparation. This particular article examines teacher preparation accountability, effectiveness, and policies.

Cochran-Smith, M., Villegas, A. M., Abrams, L., Chavez-Moreno, L., Mills, T., & Stern, R. (2015). Critiquing teacher preparation research: An overview of the field, part II. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(2), 109–121. Retrieved from

This article is the second part of a two-part article that builds on the citation above. The article discusses research on teacher preparation for the knowledge society and research on teacher preparation for diversity and equity which emerges from their review of research of initial teacher education.

Cochran-Smith, M., & Zeichner, K. (2005). Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education. Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association.

A blue-ribbon panel form AERA, outlines what was known in 2005 about teacher education, the work of teachers, and student learning. Additionally, the authors highlight research gaps, and strategies for filling those gaps. While this is a bit dated, many of the recommendations are still pertinent today.

Cowan, J., Goldhaber, D., Jin, Z., & Theobald, R. (2020). Teacher licensure tests: Barrier or predictive tool? (Working Paper No. 245-1020). CALDER.

Using the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), the authors found that MTEL scores are positive and significant predictors of teachers’ performance ratings and contributions to student test scores.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Powerful teacher education: Lessons from exemplary programs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Darling-Hammond highlights seven programs – Alverno College, Bank Street College, Trinity University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Southern Maine, University of Virginia, and Wheelock College that have a strong track record or preparing teachers. She highlights the strengths of each program around the knowledge base, clinical experiences, assessment, and how these programs prepare teachers to educate for equity.

Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (2005). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

One of the seminal texts on teacher preparation, the authors recommend strong content preparation, basic understanding of how people learn, understanding of how children acquire and use language, how to teach diverse students, skill in developing curriculum for student needs that includes assessment and use of technology, and understanding of the social purposes of education.

Darling-Hammond, L., Campbell, C., Goodwin, A. L., Hammerness, K., Low, E. L., McIntyre, A., … Zeichner, K. (2017). Empowered educators: How high-performing systems shape teaching quality around the world. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Focusing on seven jurisdictions across four continents, the researchers found that high performing education systems focus on building effective systems and are committed to professionalizing teaching.

Darling-Hammond, L., Eiler, M., & Marcus, A. (2002). Perceptions of preparation: Using survey data to assess teacher education outcomes. Issues in Teacher Education, 11(1), 65–84. Retrieved from

While a bit dated now, the tools they suggest for evaluating the strength of the Stanford program are still relevant. These tools include perceptual data on what candidates feel they have learned in the program (through surveys and interviews) as well as independent measures of what they have learned (data from pretests and posttests, performance assessments, work samples, employers’ surveys, and observations of practice).

Darling-Hammond, Linda. (2017). Teacher education around the world: What can we learn from international practice? European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 291–309. Retrieved from

This is a peer-reviewed journal article that has similar findings to the Empowered Educators book listed above.

Education Commission of the States. (2003). Eight questions on teacher preparation: What does the research say? Retrieved from

Similar to a number of other panel studies, this report examined 500 studies and 92 met their criteria. They answered eight questions with similar results to other students: moderate for subject matter knowledge, limited support for pedagogical coursework, inconclusive for field experiences, limited support for alternative route providers, limited support for field placements in hard-to-staff schools, , inconclusive support for setting more stringent entrance requirements for teacher preparation programs, inconclusive support for accrediting bodies, and no research on institutional warranties for new teachers.

Evatt, M., & Henderson, A. S. (2019). South Carolina teacher residency programs: Characteristics, outcomes, and recommendations. Retrieved from

The authors review literature and highlight some of the strengths of residency programs. They conclude with recommendations for how residencies and aspects of residencies could benefit South Carolina.

Feuer, M. J., Floden, R. E., Chudowsky, N., & Ahn, J. (2013). Evaluation of teacher preparation programs: Purposes, methods, and policy options. Retrieved from National Academy of Education website:

This blue-ribbon panel focused on evaluators of teacher preparation programs and found that evaluators use different types of evidence to make inferences about program quality; have different purposes, consequences, advantages, and disadvantages; serve three purposes—accountability, providing consumer information, and supporting program self-improvement.

Goldhaber, D., & Cowan, J. (2014). Excavating the teacher pipeline teacher preparation programs and teacher attrition. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(5), 449–462.

Goldhaber and Cowan found attrition patterns of teachers that were robust to within-school comparisons related to teacher preparation programs. In other words, the type of preparation affected how long teachers remained in particular schools and was likely to impact students outcomes.

Goldhaber, D., Krieg, J., Theobald, R., & Goggins, M. (2021). Front end to back end: Teacher preparation, workforce entry, and attrition. Journal of Teacher Education, 00224871211030303.

The authors examined teacher candidates in Washington state to investigate the connections between specific teacher preparation experiences and the likelihood that these candidates enter and stay in the workforce. Candidates with endorsements in hard-to-staff subjects like math and special education were more likely to enter the public teaching workforce than other candidates. They also found large differences in hiring rates over time, as candidates who graduated in the years prior to and during the Great Recession were far less likely to be hired than candidates in recent years. Additionally, teacher candidates hired into the same school type (elementary, middle, or high school) or into schools and classrooms with similar student demographics as their student teaching placement were more likely to stay in the teaching workforce.

Guha, R., Hyler, M. E., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2016). The teacher residency: An innovative model for preparing teachers. Retrieved from Learning Policy Institute website:

Residencies increase diversity in the workforce (Nationally in 2015-2016, 45 percent of residents were people of color.), 70-80 percent remain in the same district after five years, and teachers who participated in residencies have students who outperform other teachers’ students on select state assessments.

Hope Street Group. (2016). On deck: Preparing the next generation of teachers. Retrieved from

Based on evidence from almost 2000 teacher (not a scientific or representative sample), this report found that over half of respondents reported not receiving any instruction in their preservice programs related to serving in areas of high-need or persistently low-achieving populations, and they had very little exposure to college- and career-ready standards in their pre-service programs. They wanted more training on classroom management, differentiated instruction, content courses, and child development that would all be linked to clinical experiences.

Jensen, B., Roberts-Hull, K., Magee, J., & Ginnivan, L. (2016). Not so elementary: Primary school teacher quality in high-performing systems. Washington, DC: National Center on Education and the Economy.

After studying elementary education in Finland, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Japan, these researchers recommend: selecting candidates with strong subject expertise, allowing them to specialize, providing foundational content in teacher preparation, and providing subject specific support in schools.

Johnson, L., & Van Buren, C. (2019). Professional development schools as a mechanism to support teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention in South Carolina. Retrieved from

The authors examine professional development schools and their impact. They find that the benefits of professional development schools could support preparation of teachers in South Carolina although they do find limited research that supports PDSs and call for more longitudinal research.

Kimball, S. M., & Milanowski, A. (2009). Examining teacher evaluation validity and leadership decision making within a standards-based evaluation system. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(1), 34–70.

Similar to the Gates’ Measures of Effective Teaching Study, Kimball and Milanowski found substantial variation between evaluation ratings and value-added measures. These kinds of findings demonstrate the challenge of linking these results to teacher preparation providers.

Koedel, C., Parsons, E., Podgursky, M., & Ehlert, M. (2015). Teacher preparation programs and teacher quality: Are there real differences across programs? Education Finance and Policy, 10(4), 508–534. Retrieved from

These researchers compared teacher preparation programs and found differences in effectiveness between teachers from different preparation programs to be much smaller than has been suggested in previous work. They found that most of the variation from within-program differences. They believe that prior research has overstated differences in teacher performance across preparation programs by not accounting for teacher sampling.

Medley, D. M., & Coker, H. (1987). The accuracy of principals’ judgments of teacher performance. Journal of Education Research, 80(4), 242–247.

This study from three decades ago highlights the challenges of linking results of principal observations to teacher effectiveness. While they find some correlation, linking these results to teacher preparation would add an additional layer of complexity.

National Research Council. (2010). Preparing teachers: Building evidence for sound policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Summary can be retrieved from–Preparing_Teachers.pdf

Once again observing the limited research on high quality teacher preparation, the report supports the notion that subject-specific content preparation should be embedded in programs. They also cite the limits of evaluating the quality of preparation providers.

National Council on Teacher Quality (2021). Driven by data: Using licensure tests to build a strong, diverse teacher workforce.,-Diverse-Teacher-Workforce

An outsized number of elementary teacher candidates struggled to pass their state licensing tests, especially in the content knowledge (English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies), defined by states as minimally necessary for the job. In many states, less than half of all test takers passed on their first try, with even lower pass rates reported for candidates of color. The pass rates varied significantly across institutions within states and 22% of candidates who fail exams never take the exam again. That number rose to 30% for candidates of color.

Ronfeldt, M., Bardelli, E., Brockman, S. L., & Mullman, H. (2020). Will mentoring a student teacher harm my evaluation scores? Effects of serving as a cooperating teacher on evaluation metrics. American Educational Research Journal, 57(3), 1392–1437.

The authors find that cooperating teachers’ concerns about lowered evaluation ratings when mentoring student teachers is unfounded. In fact, they found that cooperating teachers had significantly better observation ratings and somewhat better achievement gains when they had student teachers.

Ronfeldt, M., & Campbell, S. L. (2016). Evaluating teacher preparation using graduates’ observational ratings. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38(4), 603–625. Retreived from

These researchers found that observation ratings for teachers were promising ways to evaluate teacher education providers as they found significant and meaningful differences across providers that were significantly related to rankings based on student achievement gains.

Sahlberg, P. (2010). The secret of Finland’s success: Educating teachers. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved from’s-success-educating-teachers.pdf

Sahlberg highlights the strengths of the Finnish system – the high regard for teaching (even more important than compensation) that brings talented applicants to teacher preparation programs (1 in 10 applicants accepted) as well as the rigorous preparation teachers receive.

Wilson, S. M., Floden, R. E., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001). Teacher preparation research: Current knowledge, gaps, and recommendations. Retrieved from Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy website: Retreived from

After analyzing 300 students, this research team found 57 that met their criteria for inclusion. While somewhat dated, these findings are connected to more recent studies as well. They found a connection between subject-specific knowledge and preparation but it was not definitive on the type or how much. Content-specific pedagogical preparation seemed important, but studies were unclear. Clinical experiences connected to academic coursework were valuable. Making policy decisions based on existing evidence would be challenging.

Worrell, F., Brabeck, M., Dwyer, C., Geisinger, K., Marx, R., Noell, G., & Pianta, R. (2014). Assessing and evaluating teacher preparation programs. Retrieved from American Psychological Association website: Retreived from

This is a report from a blue-ribbon panel formed by the APA. They recommend using student learning outcome data, standardized observations, and surveys to evaluate teacher education programs.

Zeichner, K., Payne, K. A., & Brayko, K. (2015). Democratizing teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(2), 122–135. Retrieved from

The authors advocate for and provide examples of partnerships between universities, schools, and communities in teacher preparation programs in order to develop innovative solutions. They highlight the challenges, complexities, and opportunities of this approach.