In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Teacher Preparation

  • Introduction
  • Curriculum Design
  • Inclusive Educational Practices
  • Educational Research
  • Career Resources

Education Teacher Preparation
Joyce L. Meeuwsen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0044


Teacher education programs strive to prepare teachers who are knowledgeable in their content areas, well informed about research-based curriculum and instructional practices, grounded in the foundations of learning theory and educational decision making, and equipped to meet the needs of diverse learners. While most teacher preparation programs share similar goals, there is less consensus on the best path for achieving desired results. To further complicate the field of teacher preparation, requirements for teacher licensure vary significantly by state, as do accreditation criteria for teacher education programs. For example, teacher preparation programs in some universities may consist of graduate-level “5th year” teacher candidates, while other programs may offer education courses to students as early as the freshman year of college or university. In light of these differences, education faculty members rely on a variety of resources to define a core body of knowledge. Recent policy initiatives and growing public interest in improving teacher quality are drawing greater attention to the field of teacher preparation. For decades, prominent federal programs and a series of interventions have been aimed at narrowing the achievement gap between students from various backgrounds. Subsequently, considerable debate surrounded the question of how best to meet the needs of disadvantaged learners. Rather than continued examination of district initiatives and curricular overhauls as levers of change, recent efforts shifted attention to the classroom as the unit of analysis. This focus has resulted in an elevated sense of urgency to examine classroom-level issues of teacher and instructional quality. Accordingly, the field of teacher preparation is under greater scrutiny as more questions are asked about what teachers should know and be able to do as they enter the classroom. Just as discussions about national standards for student learning are becoming more common, so, too, are discussions of national standards for the teaching profession. While debate continues about how high-quality teaching is defined, measured, accessed, and improvedboth at the entry point of the profession and within the profession—few would argue with the importance of high-quality teaching in improving student achievement. The criticality of teacher preparation as a mechanism for improving teacher quality suggests that preservice programs provide prospective teachers with training in the following categories: introduction to the field of education, human development and learning, classroom management, instruction, inclusive educational practices, assessment, educational decision making, and career resources. This bibliography focuses on general resources for prekindergarten through twelfth-grade (PK–12) education in these areas, emphasizing a combination of practical and theoretical resources selected for their value in a professional teacher’s library. Subject and grade-level-specific recommendations will be presented in subsequent bibliographies.

The Context of American Education

Prospective teachers benefit from an introduction to the concepts, issues, and perspectives shaping the field of education, because such an introduction provides the opportunity to increase awareness—and examine personal attitudes and assumptions—about diversity, learning, students, instructional practices, curriculum, and resources that affect classroom learning. Introductory courses emphasize the importance of developing thoughtful and informed practitioners with competence to teach all learners.

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