Policy Brief

Improving Teacher Practice

Reading to students
Authors
Courtney Bell
Educational Testing Service
Lucrecia Santibañez
University of California, Los Angeles
Eric Taylor
Harvard University
Published
Summary

California has a keen interest in ensuring the effectiveness of the teachers in its classrooms. The quality of teaching affects student learning and has a lasting impact on students’ success in school and in the labor market. Improving the quality of teaching is a crucial linchpin in California’s efforts to address many of its pressing education challenges.

This brief takes up the dual topics of teacher preparation and teacher evaluation. Understanding both how well-prepared teachers are when they enter the classroom and how evaluation of practice during teachers’ careers can enhance their effectiveness gives policymakers options for better using these levers to create an effective teaching force.

KEY FINDINGS

  • The state’s teacher preparation system aligns with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTPs), but this high-level alignment masks variations in ground-level implementation.
  • California’s disconnected information system constrains policymakers’ ability to improve the state’s teacher education system.
  • Teachers of English learners (ELs) need specialized knowledge, dispositions, and practices to effectively teach this population of students; yet, new teachers in California are often not adequately prepared for the ELs in their classrooms.
  • Carefully designed teacher evaluation and support systems have the potential to improve teaching effectiveness.