Statistic of the Month: Pre-service Practical Training for Teachers Around the World

Jennifer Craw Nathan Driskell
by Jennifer Craw and Nathan Driskell

The best teacher training programs offer not only high-quality pedagogy and content courses to future teachers, but also extensive practical experience in the classroom both observing and teaching under the guidance of experienced teachers.[1]

Below we look at minimum requirements for this practical experience for prospective teachers in some top-performing education systems and in the United States.

PractitcumLength

Sources: OECD Education at a Glance 2014
NCTQ Policy Issues: Teacher Preparation
Darling-Hammond, L. (2013). “Developing and Sustaining a High-Quality Teaching Force.”

In the United States, regulations for teacher practicum pre-service training vary widely between states. According to the National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ), only 34 states require at least ten weeks of practicum (including several states that require more) while nine states require less than ten weeks and eight states do not set minimum requirements. Tennessee, Maine and Oregon each require prospective teachers to complete 15 weeks of practical experience during pre-service teacher training, the longest required practicum among U.S. states. Meanwhile, in four of the top-performing jurisdictions—Singapore, Finland, Shanghai China and Ontario Canada—all prospective teachers must complete a minimum amount of practical experience in teacher training that is significantly longer than 10 weeks with Singapore requiring 22 weeks. Further, these top-performing jurisdictions require that highly experienced master teachers mentor prospective teachers during this practical experience. In the United States, NCTQ notes that just six states require that the cooperating/mentor classroom teacher is effective in the classroom, according to the state teacher evaluation systems.

In Finland, the required practical experience for all teacher candidates includes three weeks in a school in year one of study, and eight weeks in both years three and five for a total of 19 weeks. In the first year, the focus is on observing trained teachers, writing case studies of what they observe, and occasionally leading lessons. In the third year, prospective teachers are expected to teach at least 50 lessons in pairs with a member of their cohort. In the fifth year, prospective teachers are responsible for developing lesson plans and teaching students all day, with supervision from a mentor. Until the fifth year, all clinical experience is conducted in “teacher training schools,” where all staff are trained in how to observe teacher candidates and provide them with the support that they need to improve.[2]

Teacher candidates in Ontario must complete a practical experience supervised by a trained master teacher that is required to be at least 80 days, or 16 weeks (doubled from 40 days in 2013).[3]

Teacher candidates in Shanghai complete an 18-week teaching internship during their fourth year of study under the supervision of a master teacher. Shanghai Normal University, one of two teacher preparation institutions in Shanghai, also requires two weeks of observing master teachers in schools in the third year of study.[4]

And finally, in Singapore prospective teachers spend two weeks observing schools, five weeks serving as a teaching assistant, and 15 weeks of teaching practice in schools. This adds up to 22 weeks. For the final 15 weeks of teaching practice, both university professors of teaching and trained master teachers observe the candidates.[5]


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[1] Linda Darling-Hammond (2013). “Developing and Sustaining a High-Quality Teaching Force.” Retrieved from http://asiasociety. org/files/gcen-darlinghammond.pdf.

[2] Linda Darling Hammond (2015). International Teacher Policy Study. [Discussion draft]. Stanford University.

[3] Darling-Hammond, L. (2013). “Developing and Sustaining a High-Quality Teaching Force.” Retrieved from http://asiasociety. org/files/gcen-darlinghammond.pdf, p. 43

[4] Linda Darling Hammond (2015). International Teacher Policy Study. [Discussion draft]. Stanford University.

[5] Darling-Hammond, L. (2013). “Developing and Sustaining a High-Quality Teaching Force.” Retrieved from http://asiasociety. org/files/gcen-darlinghammond.pdf, p. 43

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