The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Higher Education and Professional Practice


Examining the Pathways for Teacher Preparation


February 27, 2004




Assessment of the Regents 1998 Teaching Policy


Goals 2 and 3







At your February meeting, Regents McGivern, Johnson and I provided the Board with an overview of the progress made in implementing the Regents 1998 Teaching Policy “Teaching to Higher Standards: New York’s Commitment.”  We discussed accomplishments and additional activities needed to recruit and retain the best teachers for New York State’s schools, the redesign of pre-service education programs at the 110 colleges and universities that are preparing new teachers in the State, professional development requirements, activities under way to assist all teachers in remaining current with their profession, and changes in the school environment necessary to support effective teaching and learning. We also discussed the next steps in the implementation of the Regents Teaching Policy.


            One of the critical next steps is the assessment of the effectiveness of teacher preparation in our State.  The Board of Regents and the Department need quantifiable data to identify which teacher education pathways and programs make a difference in teaching and learning.  At the February meeting, I briefly discussed research that Professor James Wyckoff is conducting in collaboration with Professor R. Hamilton Lankford and Research Scientist Donald Boyd of the State University of New York at Albany and Professor Pam Grossman and Assistant Professor Susanna Loeb of Stanford University.  This independent research will examine teacher preparation at the City University of New York and approximately 10 independent colleges.   As a part of that research, Professor Wyckoff and his colleagues will be looking at the attributes of teacher education programs at these institutions and their impact on issues including the production of quality teachers, as evidenced by gains in student learning in the New York City public schools, and retention of teachers.  The research will provide us with important information on effective practices and approaches to preparing teachers who have the most positive impact on student learning outcomes.


            Professor Wyckoff will meet with the Committee in March to provide an overview of his research activities.  The research abstract is attached.








Examining Teacher Preparation: Does the Pathway Make a Difference?

Executive Summary

December 2003


Policymakers at every level of government and the public understand that few issues are more important than improving the performance of America’s K-12 students, especially those in urban, low-performing schools. Increasingly research supports common sense in identifying teachers as the most important contributor to improved student outcomes. Surprisingly, there is virtually no systematic, methodologically sound research that indicates the attributes of teacher preparation programs and pathways into teaching that improve student outcomes. (See Wilson, Floden and Ferrini-Mundy, 2001 for a review of this literature.)


This research addresses this directly by examining the following research questions:


·         Which teachers are most effective in improving student outcomes? What characterizes their preparation, pathways into teaching and qualifications to teach?

·         How are the attributes of teachers and their pathway into teaching related to:

o        Who teaches where and why?

o        Who stays in teaching and why?

o        Who transfers, why and to which schools?

o        Who quits teaching and why?

·         What is the cost effectiveness of various pathways into teaching?


The research will assess the role that pathways into teaching, both traditional and nontraditional (such as the New York City Teaching Fellows Program), do and can play in both improving the quality of the teacher workforce and equalizing the distribution of highly qualified teachers across urban schools. The attributes of teacher preparation programs cannot be examined in isolation from longstanding and well-defined characteristics of teacher labor markets – teacher salaries, teachers’ preferences about schools (such as characteristics of students, teachers, leadership, community, and facilities), and school district hiring practices (such as the post-and-fill process of seniority transfers) all can affect teacher career paths and effectiveness. It is especially important to take these labor market characteristics into account when attempting to understand how to improve teaching in difficult-to-staff urban schools, where there often are enormous school-to-school and district-to-district differences in these characteristics.


Working closely with the New York City public schools, the City University of New York and schools of education at other institutions that supply teachers to New York City, and with support from the New York State Education Department, we are examining teacher preparation in New York City. We are very far along in building a very rich database that contains detailed characteristics of every teacher to enter the New York public school system over the last 15 years, and the attributes of their teacher preparation pathway, the schools they have taught in, and the students they taught – including student-level scores on Citywide standardized exams in mathematics and English language arts for elementary students. We will supplement administrative data, beginning in 2004, with annual surveys of a large subset of teacher preparation program participants and teachers as they enter and move through the early years of their careers, providing valuable information on their teacher preparation and teaching experiences, and on their attitudes and preferences. We also will conduct surveys of school principals. The surveys and detailed analysis of the alternative pathways into teaching will provide a deep understanding of the context in which teacher preparation occurs and its effect on preparing teachers to educate students to meet the demanding standards now in place for all students in New York. This extraordinary database linking individual teachers to individual students – unique in the nation - allows us to use large-scale longitudinal analysis to explore the importance of specific attributes of pathways into teaching in New York City, the nation’s largest public school system.


The results of this research will be valuable to state policymakers, urban school systems, schools of education, teacher organizations, researchers, and others. Many groups have expressed tremendous interest in and support for the project. We are particularly grateful to the City University of New York, the New York State Education Department, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Science Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation, for providing the financial support needed to make this project possible.