At a recent meeting of the American Education Research Association (AERA), The Learning Policy Institute presented findings from a comprehensive study of teacher residencies across the nation. There are currently approximately 50 such programs. The best include the following key characteristics:
- Strong district/university partnerships
- Coursework about teaching and learning tightly integrated with clinical practice
- Full-year residency teaching alongside an expert mentor teacher
- High-ability, diverse candidates recruited to meet specific district hiring needs, typically in fields where there are shortages
- Financial support for residents in exchange for a three- to five-year teaching commitment
- Cohorts of residents placed in “teaching schools” that model good practices with diverse learners and are designed to help novices learn to teach
- Expert mentor teachers who co-teach with residents
- Ongoing mentoring and support for graduates
Research suggests that well-designed and well-implemented teacher residency models can create long-term benefits for districts, for schools, and ultimately and most importantly, for the students they serve. Key benefits include:
Recruitment: Research suggests that residencies bring greater gender and racial diversity into the teaching workforce. Across teacher residency programs nationally, 45% of residents in 2015–16 were people of color. This proportion is more than double the national average of teachers of color entering the field, which is 19%. In addition to attracting a more diverse workforce, residencies aim to staff high-need schools and subject areas. Nationally, 13% of residency graduates in 2015–16 taught in mathematics, science, or technology fields, and 32% taught English language learners and/or students with special needs.
Retention: National studies of teacher retention indicate that around 20–30% of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and that attrition is even higher (often reaching 50% or more) in high-poverty schools and in high-need subject areas, like the ones in which residents teach. Studies of teacher residency programs consistently point to the high retention rates of their graduates, even after several years in the profession, generally ranging from 80–90% in the same district after three years and 70–80% after five years.
Student Outcomes: Because most residency programs are still in their infancy, only a few studies have examined program impact on student achievement. Early studies, however, indicate that students of teachers who participated in a residency program outperform students of non-residency prepared teachers on select state assessments.
To read an executive summary of the LPI report, see https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/sites/default/files/product-files/LPI-Brief-TeacherResidencies.pdf