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Learning from the Best: Promising Practices in Preparing Tennessee's Future Teachers 

Educator preparation programs (EPPs) across Tennessee train teacher candidates through a combination of coursework and practice teaching experiences. These practice experiences pair pre-service teachers with current teachers in their endorsement areas who are known as clinical mentors. This brief examines whether having a more instructionally effective clinical mentor matters, and what the state, districts, and EPPs can do to ensure that student teaching experiences ready future teachers. 


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Key Findings
Mentors Matter  
  • Pre-service teachers with more instructionally effective clinical mentors perform better during their first year as measured by observation and student growth scores, feel more prepared, and report more frequent and higher-quality coaching.

  • Serving as a clinical mentor does not negatively impact teachers' evaluation scores. 

  • When the state provides districts with lists recommending specific teachers they should target to serve as clinical mentors, they recruit substantially more effective teachers and, as a result, the pre-service candidates those teachers mentor feel more prepared for the classroom.