teachers look very different from one state to the next. This variety has complicated others’ efforts to collect data and conduct comparative analyses, and it has also complicated our work.
We have drawn on a range of sources for our description of pathways and programs, and two recent major reports were particularly useful for this and subsequent chapters. A committee formed by the National Academy of Education was asked to articulate the knowledge base for teaching and to make research-based recommendations about how core knowledge could be incorporated into the curricula of teacher education programs and to develop “professional and scholarly consensus based on research about learning, teacher learning, and teacher education.” The resulting report (Darling-Hammond and Bransford, 2005)—which drew on basic research on learning, research on the influences of different conditions on learning, research on the kinds of teacher education that are associated with particular instructional practices or student learning, and research on how teachers learn—described what kinds of teacher knowledge and experiences appear to be most valuable in promoting student learning.
Another report issued in 2005 focused on the somewhat different challenge of synthesizing the research on a variety of policies and practices in teacher preparation programs. Developed by a committee of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the study (Cochran-Smith and Zeichner, 2005) considered such issues as the characteristics and demographics of student populations, coursework in both the arts and sciences and in pedagogy, field experiences and pedagogical approaches, means of preparing teachers to work with diverse student populations, among others. The chapter authors drew on the expertise of many scholars to assess the research base in each area, applying a consistent set of criteria for evaluating the studies available, and to provide critical summaries of the findings. These two volumes, together with some promising new lines of research on teacher preparation, have begun to lay the groundwork for a research base on teacher education, and we have drawn on them throughout our report.2
We look first at teachers’ career pathways, the routes by which teacher candidates can obtain a license to teach. The distinction between programs and pathways is not precise, but in general pathways refers to broad categories of preparation, while programs are specific courses of study or experiences sponsored by a particular institution. There are numerous path-
Of particular note is the Pathways Project, a collaboration among economists and teacher educators at the University at Albany and Stanford University: see http://www.teacherpolicyresearch.org/TeacherPathwaysProject/tabid/81/Default.aspx [September 2009].