A Foot in the Door: Exploring the Role of Student Teaching Assignments in Teachers’ Initial Job Placements
In response to mounting evidence of substantial “teacher quality gaps” between advantaged and disadvantaged U.S. public schools, the federal government recently directed states to develop plans to reduce inequity in the distribution of teacher quality across schools. One of the few aspects of the teacher hiring process that can easily be manipulated—and a part of the teacher pipeline that has received very little empirical attention—is the placement of prospective teachers in student teaching assignments.
Data from Washington state was used to examine two distinct stages of the teacher pipeline: the placement of prospective teachers in student teaching assignments and the hiring of prospective teachers into their first teaching positions. Researchers found that prospective teachers are likely to complete their student teaching near their colleges and hometowns, but that prospective teachers’ student teaching positions are much more predictive of their first teaching positions than their hometowns. This suggests that the “draw of home” in new teacher hiring is driven by patterns in student teaching assignments. We also find that more qualified prospective teachers tend to student teach in more advantaged districts, suggesting that patterns in student teaching assignments may contribute to the inequitable distribution of teacher quality.