Teacher Preparation: Highlights from Around the World

Feb 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM Jessica Beidelman Education Trends

Quality teachers are lifelong learners who teach with commitment, reflect on their teaching practice and strive to continuously improve. International geographies offer different methods for preparing teachers for success in their profession. 


United States

U.S. pre-service teachers participate in Stanford University’s edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment). This assessment was designed with input from hundreds of university faculty, national subject-matter experts and organization representatives (e.g., National Council of Teachers of Math, National Council of Teachers of English, National Science Teachers Association, etc.) and K–12 teachers.

The edTPA is a performance-based, subject-specific assessment that approximates the real work of teachers. The edTPA includes three critical tasks designed for pre-service teachers to demonstrate their abilities to: plan, instruct and assess students in-situ. Pre-service teachers prepare and submit a portfolio of authentic materials (student work, lesson plans, videos of themselves teaching etc.) assembled during their clinical experience (student teaching/internship experience). The edTPA challenges pre-service teachers to demonstrate their readiness to teach through planning for instruction, supporting their students' strengths and needs; engaging real students in ambitious learning; analyzing whether their students are learning and adjusting their instruction to become more effective teachers through high-quality instruction.



Finland has a comprehensive teacher recruitment and training process that places a high level of trust in teachers and administrators. Finnish policymakers trust that each school and municipality will adequately oversee teachers’ entry to their teaching assignments (Driskell, 2015). 

Teaching is consistently the most admired profession for high school graduates in Finland. Becoming a primary school teacher in Finland is a competitive process, and only Finland’s best and brightest are able to become teachers (Sahlberg, 2010).

Finland prepares primary school teachers via an integrated bachelor’s/master’s program. In the bachelor’s of education (three year program), candidates specialize in a chosen field that becomes the subject they teach. Candidates can choose between Finnish, math, art and music, history, natural sciences, biology, geography or religion and ethics (Driskell, 2014).



Young or low-performing teachers and principals are transferred to high-performing schools and, when they learn how to perform competently, are transferred back to their original schools. In Shanghai, teachers are paid for performance; base pay is 70% and 30% is bonus based on a performance assessment. There are four formal hierarchical grades for teachers that indicate professional status in Shanghai: Master teachers are outstanding teachers and leaders, and only 0.1 percent of Shanghai’s teachers receive this designation.

Teachers in Shanghai spend less than 50 percent of their working hours teaching, devoting the remainder of their time to continuing professional development (CIEB, Shanghai).

Shanghai schools require teachers to undergo continuous professional development throughout their careers. New teachers are required to spend 120 hours on professional development in their first year of teaching and then 360 hours every five years. Senior teachers are required to spend at least 540 hours on professional development every five years (CIEB, Shanghai).



Teaching is a highly-respected profession in Singapore. Singapore recruits teachers from the top third of high school graduates (CIEB, Singapore).

A “closed” structure enables Singapore to monitor its teaching workforce in terms of quantity and quality. Singapore calculates the number of teachers it will need and opens only that many spots in its training programs. A centrally managed system helps Singapore maximize human resources and minimize teacher shortages and high turnover (Ingersoll, 2007).

Teachers receive training in the Singapore curriculum at the National Institute of Education (NIE) at Nanyang Technological University. They complete a diploma or a degree course depending on their level of education at entry. All new teachers are mentored for the first few years (Schleicher, 2012).



CIEB. Shanghai-China: Teacher and Principal Quality. Center on International Education Benchmarking. 

CIEB. Singapore: Teacher and Principal Quality. Center on International Education Benchmarking.

Driskell, Nathan. (2015). Global Perspectives: Mentoring and Support for New Teachers in Ontaro and Finland. Center on International Education Benchmarking.

Ingersoll, Richard. (2007). Ed., A Comparative Study of Teacher Preparation and Qualifications in Six Nations. Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). 

Sahlberg, Pasi. (2010). The Secret to Finland’s Success: Educating Teachers. SCOPE Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education – Research Brief. 

Schleicher, Andreas. (2012). Ed., Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders for the 21st Century Lessons From Around the World. OECD Publishing.