Topic: Teacher Preparation


Teacher Preparation & Pathways

Every student deserves a well-prepared teacher. But states need numerous high-quality pathways into teaching to attract qualified and diverse candidates.

What do policies for strong teacher preparation pathways look like?

  • Leverage an assortment of pathways into teaching — including traditional pathways, alternative programs, apprenticeships and residencies, and grow-your-own initiatives.
  • Clearly outline a shared set of high standards and expectations for all pathways.
  • Make sure that the content and pedagogy covered in preparation programs is attuned to the real-life needs teachers will face in the classroom, such as classroom management, the science of reading, and social-emotional learning.
  • Offer a variety of options for teachers to prove their skills outside of tests and courses — for example, micro-credentials, classroom demonstrations, or edTPA.
  • Collect data on the strengths and impact of new teachers to identify which programs and pathways the best teachers are coming from.
  • Support teachers across the career continuum — for example, define pathways into teacher-leadership opportunities for educators who demonstrate success in the classroom and an ability to facilitate adults, and consider their role in preparing future teachers.
  • Ensure that preparation pathways go hand-in-hand with other teacher workforce policies as part of a cohesive, interlocking system — for example, incentivize candidates to pursue the most effective pathways into teaching through a licensure system that allows for the best-prepared candidates to enter with a higher starting salary.

How SREB supports teacher preparation

SREB tracks and summarizes policies, analyzes research, and offers several programs to train, induct and mentor teachers.

SREB’s Teacher Preparation Commission met during 2016, 2017 and 2018 to develop practical and effective recommendations to improve teacher preparation across the region. Learn more and read the Commission’s most recent report by visiting our Teacher Preparation Commission page.

Publication May 2024
Since the pandemic, Teacher vacancies rose, Teacher retention declined,  Applicants decreased

Teacher Labor Market Trends
Insights From Two Southern States

Teacher shortages, high turnover rates and declining interest in the teaching profession have proven difficult for policymakers to address. These concerns are even more dire in Southern states. 

Partnering with researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, SREB studied data in Kentucky and Tennessee on teacher labor market trends over the last decade. This online report features seven findings with interactive charts.  

Publication October 2023 | 12 pages
report cover

Recruiting the Next Generation of Teachers: Challenges and Innovations

Crafting programs and policies that address the teacher workforce requires knowledge of Gen Z, their interest in entering the teaching profession, and how to support them as new teachers. In this brief, the research team reviewed the literature on Gen Z’s background, interest in teaching as a profession, and what states and districts are doing to try and recruit them.


Publication March 20203 pages

State Policy Flexibilities in Response to COVID-19
Avoid Failing the Next Cohort of New Teachers

With colleges and schools moving online to curb the spread of COVID-19, state leaders will need to act quickly to ensure that policies do not prevent student-teachers from graduating and becoming licensed to teach in the fall. This brief includes immediate and longer-term recommendations to prevent pandemic closures from escalating the teacher shortage crisis.


Publication January 20205 pages

The Effects of Teacher Preparation and Training Options
A Review of the Research

SREB reviewed research on the effects of various teacher preparation and training options. The brief includes a comparison of the impact on student achievement of traditional teacher preparation programs and alternative pathways. The report takes a look at how advanced degrees and certifications impact teacher effectiveness and retention.


Publication January 201932 pages18E06

State Policies to Improve Teacher Preparation
Report of the SREB Teacher Preparation Commission

To improve the effectiveness of new teachers, the SREB Teacher Preparation Commission called on states to: 

  1. Hold all new teachers in a state to the same high standards, and require practice-based licensure tests.
  2. Require high-quality clinical teaching experiences.
  3. Develop statewide data systems for continuous improvement.
  4. Encourage partnerships between teacher preparation programs and K-12 districts. 
Blog post Jessica Snellings, Research Analyst

How States Can Reduce College Debt for Future Teachers 

A major issue for my generation, the millennials, and for Gen Z as well is deep, suffocating student debt. For those who want to enter teaching, a career that is not compensated handsomely, this debt can be even more daunting.

Many teacher candidates work full- or part-time jobs in addition to attending classes. When they enter their student teaching period, whether for a semester or a year, these candidates are expected to give over their time fully to student teaching, which makes working nearly impossible.


State Reading and Math Requirements for Elementary Teachers

SREB’s 2017 Ready to Read, Ready to Succeed and 2019 Early Math Matters reports explain the importance of well-prepared teachers in the elementary grades. These reports contain tables summarizing SREB states’ teacher preparation requirements in reading and math. The tables can be found below.



Publication November 201913 pages

Educator Preparation Program Accountability in Selected States

SREB conducted research on how states create performance accountability systems for teacher education programs. This brief describes how states go about developing performance measures and creating public report cards. The document’s appendix includes program accountability profiles for all SREB states and nine additional states.


Blog post Samantha DurranceSREB Policy Analyst
Graph with percentages of teachers with a degree in math or math education in 2018.

Giving Elementary Teachers the Tools to Teach Math Well
Broad preparation can leave math-specific knowledge lacking

Math cartoon - "Just a darn minute -- yesterday your said that X equals two!" It’s no secret that aspiring teachers with strong math backgrounds tend to be drawn toward the secondary grades, where they can just teach math. In fact, results of the 2018 National Survey of Science and Math Education showed that just 3 percent of elementary teachers surveyed held a degree in mathematics or math education, compared with 45 percent of middle grades math teachers and 79 percent of high school math teachers.

Blog post Matthew Smith | SREB Research Associate

Spotlight on Clinical Experiences
How State Leaders Could Support High-Quality Clinical Practice

The SREB Teacher Preparation Commission called on state leaders to consider ways to improve the quality of teacher candidates’ classroom experiences. After consulting the research, Commission members learned that the length of a clinical experience is less important than ensuring that candidates are supported by effective mentors and supervised by university faculty who have experience in the classroom.

Blog post Matthew Smith, SREB Research Associate

Getting the Balance Right
Reconsidering the Mix of Teacher Licensure Measures

The SREB Teacher Preparation Commission called on state leaders to adopt practice-based assessments. These tests assess candidates’ readiness to lead a classroom and to apply lessons learned during coursework and clinical experiences.

Practice-based assessments have diagnostic value, meaning they provide performance data that educator preparation programs can use to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. State agencies could use the assessment data to determine how they will provide technical assistance to preparation programs.

Blog post Samantha Durrance, Policy Analyst, SREB

Are teachers prepared to teach reading?
Research shows a gap between what we know about reading and how teachers are prepared to teach it

Reading is the foundation for learning.

The research is clear: Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are much more likely to face poor academic outcomes. For this reason alone, we know it is incredibly important that children learn to read well early in elementary school and continue to build on those reading skills throughout the rest of school.