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Making the Most of Student Teaching: The Importance of Mentors and Scope for Change
A growing literature documents the importance of student teaching placements for teacher development. Emerging evidence from this literature highlights the importance of the mentor teacher who supervises this placement. This brief provides an overview of this research, which suggests that teachers tend to be more effective when they student teach with a more effective mentor. We illustrate that there is ample scope for change in student teacher placements by using data from Washington State to demonstrate that there are far more highly effective teachers who could serve as mentors in each year than who actually do serve. We also discuss the considerable challenges to improvement efforts related to the need for better coordination between teacher education programs, K–12 school systems, and states. If policymakers value teacher candidate development equivalently to teacher inservice development, we argue that they should be willing to pay mentor teachers about 15 times more to recruit a highly effective teacher to host student teachers than the average current compensation for mentor teachers.
CALDER Policy Brief No. 15-0519