Student Teaching Policies in States with Separate Instrumental and Vocal K-12 Licensure

Daniel S. Hellman, Missouri State University
Dale E. Bazan, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA
Amy Fraser, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA
Polly Yukevich, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA

A variety of reform-oriented policies such as year-long residencies, coteaching and teacher performance assessments have been aimed at shaping student teaching experiences in recent years with an aim toward great standardization (CochranSmith et al, 2015; Parkes & Powell, 2015; Robinson, 2015; Rodgers & Jenkins, 2010; Ronfeldt & Reininger, 2012). Some scholars have observed this as worrisome trend possibly compounded by the isolation of music teacher educators from reform-oriented policy discourses on policy development and implementation (Kashub & Smith, 2014; Robinson, 2015). Few research studies have investigated the mechanisms and decision-making involved in the administration, negotiation and design of music student teaching placements (Baumgartner, 2014; Draves, 2013; Zemek, 2008). Considering the rapid acceleration of reform-oriented policies, systematic data on the range, extent and impact of student teaching policies and practices across states and institutions could provide a valuable resource for describing trends and informing the field.

The purpose of this study was to examine student teaching policies and practices that shape the experiences of music preservice teachers. A survey was created to collect information at all NASM institutions with at least five completers annually, across 10 states with separate K-12 instrumental and vocal certifications. The sample consisted of music education directors or coordinators who lead music education programs. Information collected through the survey included the scope of student teaching experiences, considerations used in making placements, criteria used for selecting cooperating teachers, and required assessments. Face and content validity were established through a review by members of the research team and a small-scale pilot conducted in two states not utilized in the study. Data were collected between June and November 2016, resulting in a response rate of 32%.

The results indicate that the expertise of music teacher educators are the most influential factor in making music student teaching placements. Music teacher educators overwhelmingly report that they have autonomy in coordinating field experiences. Decisions about student teaching placements are wholly or at least partially made within the music unit at nearly all institutions. Informal relationships and personal connections are used in making student teaching placements. Over 80% of programs utilize semester-length placements, and two-thirds of programs utilize consecutive placements to provide breadth within the student teaching experience. The highest consideration in making student teaching placements was given to cooperating teachers’ characteristics such as musicianship, personality, teaching, and mentorship potential. Proprietary teacher performance assessments are used in over 70% of programs. The results revealed that the strengths of cooperating teachers are given more consideration than the breadth of curricular experiences across grade levels and types of music classes in making student teaching placements. Notably, the administrative and coordination responsibilities for music education faculty vary with institutional context.

The researchers discuss the results with respect to the policy needs and goals of music teacher education.


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