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In teacher education, quality assurance matters

An international study of mathematics teachers has found that quality-assurance policies and mechanisms make a difference to teacher quality and student outcomes.

Reporting on data collected from 22 000 future teachers and 5000 mathematics and general pedagogy educators in 500 teacher education institutions across 17 countries, the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M) of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) represents the first ever large-scale international study of the preparation of primary and lower-secondary teachers to teach mathematics.

The IEA this year released its TEDS-M report, An Analysis of Teacher Education Context, Structure, and Quality-Assurance Arrangements in TEDS-M Countries, by Lawrence Ingvarson, Glenn Rowley and Ray Peck, from the Australian Council for Educational Research and John Schwille, Maria Teresa Tatto and Sharon Senk from Michigan State University.

In its focus on quality-assurance arrangements, the report addresses recruitment and selection in terms of the total number of university places available for teacher education students; entry requirements; entry requirements for mathematics teacher education students compared with entry requirements for other university or professional preparation programs; compliance mechanisms; and external examinations.

According to the report, ‘The status of teaching varies markedly across the countries participating in TEDS-M, as does the prior academic achievement level of students entering teacher education programs relative to that of their age group overall. Increasingly, countries are looking to broaden the sources of teacher supply through policies that encourage suitably qualified people from other careers to apply.’

The report found ‘considerable variation’ in policies related to quality assurance in terms of:

  • the quality of entrants to teacher education programs
  • the quality of teacher education programs, and 
  • the quality of graduates who gain full entry to the teaching profession.

According to the report, there is a close relationship between strong quality-assurance arrangements and high-quality graduates, as measured by the tests of mathematics content knowledge and mathematics pedagogical content knowledge used in TEDS-M.

Countries with strong quality-assurance arrangements, such as Chinese Taipei and Singapore, scored highest on these mathematics content knowledge and mathematics pedagogical content knowledge measures, while countries with weaker arrangements, such as Georgia and Chile, tended to score lower on these measures.

The report observes that countries such as Chinese Taipei and Singapore:

  • ensure the quality of entrants to teacher education 
  • have strong systems for reviewing, assessing and accrediting teacher education providers, and
  • have strong mechanisms for ensuring that graduates meet high standards of performance before gaining certification and full entry to the profession.

The report also observes that policies designed to promote teacher quality – from polices to make teaching an attractive career option for abler students to policies for assuring that entrants to the profession have attained high standards of performance – need to be coordinated and mutually supportive. ■

Further information:
An Analysis of Teacher Education Context, Structure, and Quality-Assurance Arrangements in TEDS-M Countries is available at < http://www.iea.nl/teds-m.html >

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