Are New Teachers Ready to Teach?

Are New Teachers Ready to Teach?

Kavita MatskoMatsko's work looks at whether new teachers are ready for the classroom.

Kavita Kapadia Matsko’s research looking at three different ways to consider new teacher readiness for the classroom received the Journal of Teacher Education’s 2022 Article of the Year.

Matsko, an associate professor and associate dean for teacher education at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, studies the design and implementation teacher education programs and mentoring. She’s particularly interested in the types of learning opportunities that facilitate student teacher learning during their classroom training.  

Her  team’s award-winning paper, “Three Different Measures of Graduates' Instructional Readiness and the Features of Preservice Preparation That Predict Them” is one of the first to link features of preservice preparation to graduates’ first year observation ratings—which are more widely available measures of instructional performance than data measuring students’ achievement gains.

The award is given by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s Committee on Research and Dissemination. Matkso, who also previously won the Article of the Year award in 2015 will be honored during a ceremony in March.

In the multi-year study, the researchers surveyed over a thousand student teachers in Chicago Publics Schools (CPS) and followed 305 of them into CPS as first year teachers the next year. In addition to examining the relationships between preservice preparation and how the graduates later did in the classroom, the team also looked at the relationships between student teachers’ self-reports about readiness to teach and their preservice mentor teachers’ perceptions of their readiness.

They found that first year teachers received stronger observation ratings when:

  • their mentor teachers during student teaching also received high observation ratings on the district evaluation rubric.
  • their preservice mentor teachers provided stronger coaching related to instruction and classroom management.
  • they completed student teaching in self-contained elementary classrooms.
  • they were hired into the same schools where they completed student teaching.

“This study suggests that different features of preparation are likely promising levers for different outcomes,” the researchers wrote. “Just because student teachers report feeling well-prepared does not mean they will be more effective as first year teachers. Mentor teacher perspectives about their preparedness as student teachers might give us more insight into their future effectiveness."

The paper is a part of the Chicago Student Teaching Pathways Project, which was funded by the Spencer Foundation. Matsko was the principal investigator for the cross-institutional research team, which was assembled when she was director of teacher education and an affiliated researcher with the Consortium on School Research at the University of Chicago.

Coauthors include Matthew Ronfeldt of the University of Michigan; Hillary Green Nolan, a graduate of the University of Michigan; and Michelle Reininger, director of research partnerships and data initiatives at the University of Colorado, Boulder, a former assistant professor at the School of Education and Social Policy.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 3/9/22