Research shows that teachers are the most important in-school factor in determining student outcomes. However, schools of education largely fail to require subject mastery or classroom management.

Alternative models of certification are necessary but often lack strong quality controls. Based on international research, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy argues that we must require subject mastery for certification and provide full-year, properly supervised clinical training for future teachers if we are to challenge America’s students sufficiently and narrow persistent achievement gaps.

IEP provides guidance to states and national philanthropies on curriculum literacy: a teacher’s capacity to decide whether a given set of instructional materials is strong or weak – and how to remedy weak materials. Research shows that the capacity to make these decisions can have far-reaching impact on student performance.  

Teachers who use strong instructional materials get better results than those who don’t.  Unfortunately, our schools of education have not been teaching curriculum literacy as a skill for future teachers. IEP’s work with partners to overcome this key element of teacher preparation is having early impact. To give but one example, David Steiner is advising 14 states that are engaged in implementing high-quality instructional materials on how best to link that important initiative to supporting curriculum literacy instruction in schools of education.

We field our Teacher Survey of Curriculum Use to learn the extent to which teachers use different curricula and how, illuminating their curriculum literacy. In addition, we administer our School Culture 360™ Survey to hear from teachers and students on the level of academic rigor in the classroom. And our evaluation projects, conducted in partnership with schools and systems, shed light on teachers’ experiences with innovative programs and high-quality curriculum.

Evaluation Projects

Learning First and Executive Director David Steiner Release Second Report: Curriculum Literacy in Schools of Education? The Hole at the Center of American Teacher Preparation

This report, a collaboration between IEP and Learning First, on which Dr. David Steiner served as lead writer, argues that learning to teach high-quality curriculum is a complex process that is too often ignored in policy and teacher preparation — leaving teachers across the United States under-prepared to perform these activities. It seeks to show why this situation is so damaging, and what might be done to remedy it. It surveys the current landscape of content that is actually being taught in schools, and reviews how — if at all — teacher preparation programs approach the matter of higher-quality content. It suggests how tomorrow’s teachers could be prepared to understand why high-quality instructional materials matter, how to identify them, and how to teach them. In short, the report calls for schools of education to teach “curriculum literacy.” While this report draws on American examples, many of its observations and their implications are relevant to other systems around the world. 

Curriculum Literacy for Future Teachers

This paper summarizes the current landscape of how teachers approach curricula; defines curriculum literacy and explains why it matters; and articulates an action plan by which teacher preparation programs and the states in which they operate can ensure the curriculum literacy of all future teachers.

Three Turbulent Decades in the Preparation of American Teachers: Two Historians Examine Reforms in Education Schools and the Emergence of Alternative Routes to Teaching

Read the report.

Cognitive Ability and Teacher Efficacy by David Steiner

Read the report.

Curriculum Literacy: What It Is and Why It Matters

IEP Director David Steiner describes why curriculum literacy matters – and what schools of education, districts, and parents can do about it.