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S. Judge

Old Dominion University (UNITED STATES)
Urban teacher residencies represent a “third way” that incorporates the best components of both traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs (Berry et al., 2008). Fashioned to mirror medical residencies, pre-service teachers, called Teacher Residents, spend a one-year apprenticeship teaching alongside an experienced mentor teacher in a high-needs school district (Solomon, 2009). With the supply and demand needs of local school districts in mind, urban teacher residency programs select uncertified teaching candidates through a competitive process. Residents receive concurrent pedagogical instruction during the year from the partner university leading to both state certification and a master’s degree. In addition, teaching residency programs provide a living stipend during the one-year teaching residency program; in exchange, residents must commit to teaching in the district for a specified period. As a result, there is increasing attention to teacher residency models as an additional pathway to improving teacher quality and retention.

Despite the growing influence of urban teaching residency programs, there is limited research on their graduates’ effectiveness. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the evaluation of an Urban Teacher Residency program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Partnership grant. This project teamed the university with two high-need school districts, all of which desired to recruit, prepare, and retain effective teachers in high-needs secondary schools.

Specifically, this paper will examine:
(1) retention of graduates in the residency program;
(2) effectiveness of residents as measured by supervisors and independent evaluators, and
(3) residents ability to help students make significant academic progress.

A mixed methods evaluation design, including school achievement data, classroom observations, and focus group interviews, was used to determine program efficacy for Residents’
(1) program retention,
(2) pedagogical method development, and
(3) ability to help students make significant academic progress.

In the four cohorts, 100% of all graduating Residents were hired by the two participating school districts and the graduate Residents are being retained at a 100% rate within these districts. Evaluators conducted classroom observations of the Residents using the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument. For Cohorts 1-3, approximately 75% or more of the observed cohort members 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.

In addition, three resident graduates taught Advanced Placement 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.

The challenge of attracting diverse high caliber students into programs that prepare them to be highly qualified teachers – ones who will stay in the profession -- continues to be most acute in high need, hard-to-staff areas typically located in urban communities and especially in high need subject areas (Ingersoll & Smith, 2004; Jacob, 2007). The residency program featured in this paper appears to be an effective means of successfully inducting and retaining residents as teachers in “high need” urban schools.