Researchers have found that teachers are the number one in-school influence on student outcomes. And yet, many U.S. students lack access to well-prepared, highly qualified teachers due to decades of chronic teacher shortages and unequal systems of resource distribution. This circumstance has the highest impact on students of color and students in schools serving higher populations of low-income families. Teachers who receive thorough preparation and are supported with high-quality professional learning opportunities throughout their careers are better equipped to meet the needs of all their students. They also leave the profession at lower rates than underprepared teachers. Effective preparation ensures that teachers are equipped to provide the powerful, deeper learning experiences that enable students to not only learn content, but also think critically, solve problems, and learn how to learn.
As school populations continue to become more diverse, intensifying school segregation and economic inequality are heightening divisions within educational systems, making it vital to ensure the country’s most underserved students have access to well-prepared teachers. In these conditions, the Learning Policy Institute’s work examines how to best prepare and support educators both to meet the needs of today’s students and to develop and teach a curriculum that is content-rich, culturally responsive, and rooted in inquiry and problem-solving. It also spotlights the policies that can ensure affordable pathways into the profession and state and district practices that foster equitable and effective recruitment and retention.