March 28, 2017

Marilyn Cochran-Smith, (617) 552-4591,
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Teacher education report represents a missed opportunity, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Mar. 28, 2017) — In October, Bellwether Education Partners (BEP) released a report calling into question the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs in the U.S. The report proposed that improving teacher quality could be accomplished through teacher preparation program redesign. However, an academic review of the report finds that it ignores past research as well as the present context of teacher education.

The report, A New Agenda: Research to Build a Better Teacher Preparation Program, was reviewed by Dr. Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College, and a team of scholars and practitioners. The review was produced for the Think Twice think tank review project, a project of the National Education Policy Center. Think Twice is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

A New Agenda asserted that teacher preparation programs are "blindly swinging from one popular reform to the next" and decades of input- and outcome-based research have failed to improve teacher education.

Despite a reasonable assumption that teacher quality can be improved through redesigned teacher preparation programs, the reviewers find that the report includes mischaracterizations of teacher education research and omits relevant literature.

The reviewers identified three primary problems of the report:

  1. It leaves practical questions unanswered;
  2. Muddies the waters about promising research avenues; and
  3. Ignores important bodies of literature in teacher education.

In conclusion, the reviewers find that the report "represents a missed opportunity to offer guidance to [either] policymakers or institutions."

Find the report on the GLC website:

Find the original report on the web:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

The reviewers were part of Project TEER (Teacher Education and Education Reform), which is a collaborative research group interested in the intersection of teacher education policy and practice, on one hand, and neoliberal education reform, on the other. Reviewers included: Stephani Burton, Molly Cummings Carney, Juan Gabriel Sánchez, and Andrew F. Miller.

Dr. Cochran-Smith is the Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education for Urban Schools and Director of the Doctoral Program in Curriculum and Instruction at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College.

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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