|Counting the Cost of Teacher Education: Cost and Quality Issues (CIE, 1999, 37 p.)|
There are methodological reasons why exploring the allocation and utilisation of resources to teacher education is difficult. Establishing the costs of different teaching and material inputs to training appears to be the easiest part. In systems where initial teacher education and certification is undertaken in training colleges which have training as their main function, it should be relatively straightforward to establish the cost per student successfully trained. This may be more difficult where initial teacher education is provided alongside other activities - e.g. large-scale in-service support - or where several modes of training co-exist in the same institution (e.g. PGCE, B.Ed) and share staff and other resources. It may also be complicated where distance education programmes exist if these share an infrastructure that delivers a range of courses. But it should still be possible to separate out costs attributable to initial training at least to the point where there is a good enough approximation sufficient to guide policy.
More difficult is to decide how to treat costs that arise from contributions that student-teachers may make to teaching. If they undertake a substantial amount of teaching during training they contribute to the cost of providing an adequate number of teachers. If they were not in the system more teachers would have to be provided for the same levels of pupil-teacher ratios.
It is also problematic to include the costs of salaries, which are paid in full to trainees in some systems during full-time training. These teachers may or may not be replaced in the schools in which they are employed. In principle the teaching they are not doing has to be covered, but it may not be.
Notwithstanding these problems it is realistic to attempt to discover what costs are associated with different modes of delivery, how they have been changing, and what will be the budgetary implications of an expansion or reduction in any particular mode. This is needed in any medium term planning which aspires to place qualified teachers in front of all classes within a defined time period. In some cases this may indicate that the ambition cannot be realised using existing modes of training designed for different circumstances. If so, alternative modes need to be considered which are cost-sustainable and likely to be at least as effective.
The analytical difficulties associated with measurements and judgements of the effectiveness of training are considerable. Most studies which attempt this either assess the extent to which training programmes change trainees in relation to subject competence and/or professional skills, or they focus on the degree to which trained teachers are more effective in the classroom than those who are not trained. Linking these two perspectives - to establish whether those who are trained acquire relevant competencies, subsequently transfer these to classroom teaching, and as a result their pupils learn more effectively - is very ambitious. What appears simple in principle is very complex to research in reality as others have noted (Tatto, Nielson, Cummings, Kularatna, and Dharmadasa 1991:7).
A brief reminder of some of the problems creates the following incomplete list. School effectiveness research indicates how important school effects may be on achievement independent of individual staff attributes. Pupils' achievement generally cannot be viewed as the outcome of individual teachers' competencies since pupils may experience several teachers. Teachers' effectiveness is unlikely to be independent of who is taught under which circumstances, and out-of-school factors may vary in importance between pupils, classes, schools and subjects.
Given this mosaic of problems the question is how to proceed? With the luxury of offering possibilities for discussion rather than conclusions to a process, I offer some ideas to create the beginnings of a framework for empirical enquiry in the next sections.