AN URBAN TEACHER RESIDENCY THAT CLOSES THE TEACHER QUALITY GAP
Old Dominion University (UNITED STATES)
President Obama recently called for taking action to strengthen teacher preparation so that all children will have great teachers (Office of the Press Secretary, 2014). Urban teacher residencies were highlighted as a new and innovative model to the longstanding challenges of how to recruit, prepare, and retain effective teachers in high-needs school districts. Teacher residency models, such as Academy for Urban School Leadership (Chicago), Boston Teacher Residency (Boston), and Boettcher Teachers Program (Denver) demonstrate promising evidence that teacher residency models attract talented and diverse candidates, prepare them to be successful in the classroom, and retain them in high needs schools and subjects. As a result, there is increasing attention to teacher residency models as an additional pathway to improving teacher quality. This paper will describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program, which is now at the end of its 5th year of implementation.
The Teacher Immersion Residency (TIR) program is a graduate-level teacher residency program designed to prepare and place new English, math, science, and social studies teachers in high-need middle and high schools in two school districts in Virginia. The one-year residency experience enables teacher residents to work alongside mentor teachers while pursuing their graduate studies; program completion leads to teacher certification and a Masters of Arts in Education degree.
A mixed methods evaluation design, including classroom observations and interviews from residents, mentoring teachers, and school administrators, was used to assess the impact of the program. Among the program results were a 100% retention rate of residents in the teaching profession and significant growth in residents’ confidence, readiness and self-efficacy regarding their abilities to teach successfully in high needs schools. In addition, residents were observed twice a year using the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument. Approximately 75% or more of the observed residents scored proficient or distinguished on the following components:
(1) Creating an environment for respect and rapport,
(2) Organizing physical space, and
(3) Communicating with students. Implications for teacher preparation are discussed.
Of the TIR graduates teaching classes that utilize the Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) state assessments, 19 classes had SOL pass rates of 50% or higher in biology, chemistry, Virginia and U.S. History, and World History II. Additionally, three graduates taught Advanced Placement (AP) classes in four subject areas. Three of the four subjects had 100% of the students earning course credit, while the fourth class had 97% of the students earning course credit. Furthermore, 33% of the students in AP Environmental Science and 56% of the students in AP Physics earned qualifying scores on the AP exam.
This evidence indicates that the teacher residency program prepares highly effective teachers in the use of research-based instructional strategies in high-need schools. Like all ambitious endeavors, the potential exists for teacher residency programs to revolutionize teacher preparation and vastly improve student outcomes. Most importantly, students in the high-need schools will gain from the skill of new teachers who come to class on day one already experienced with proven approaches.