Developing professional capital in teaching through initial teacher education: comparing strategies in Alberta Canada and the U.S.

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Department or Administrative Unit

Alternate Pathways to Teaching

Publication Date




The purpose of this paper is to contrast the approaches to improving teacher quality through initial teacher education (ITE) in the Canadian province of Alberta, a consistently high performing system on international comparisons, to the approach taken in the United States, which has consistently fared less well than the average country in these comparisons.


We draw on a case study of policies and practices related to teaching and teacher education in Alberta and on analyses of U.S. teaching and teacher education policy to compare a business capital approach with a professional capital approach to initial teacher education.


The decision by philanthropists, business and corporate interests, and the federal government in the United States to invest in the business capital approach has led to the growing privatization of public education. The U.S. would do well to learn from Alberta’s investment in the professional capital of teachers. Alberta’s system truly is a system that has decided to invest in building “the whole teacher”. The province supports education, including initial teacher education, pays its teachers competitive salaries, and provides access to high quality and teacher driven professional development.


While comparative analyses of education systems are not new, this comparative analysis of initial teacher education in Alberta and the U.S. using a theoretical framework based on Hargreaves and Fullan’s (2012, 2013) discussion of business and professional capital should give pause to the current U.S. trajectory of disinvesting from university and college based initial teacher preparation in favor of early-entry programs.


This article was originally published in Journal of Professional Capital and Community. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Professional Capital and Community


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