The Residency Model

Teacher residency programs are, by definition, district-serving teacher education programs that pair a rigorous full-year classroom apprenticeship with masters-level education content. Building on the medical residency model, teacher preparation programs provide residents with both the underlying theory of effective teaching and a year-long, in-school “residency” in which they practice and hone their skills and knowledge alongside an effective teacher-mentor in a high-need classroom.  New teacher residents receive stipends as they learn to teach, and commit to teaching in their districts for three or more years beyond the residency.


NCTR takes a multi-pronged approach to developing and supporting teacher residencies:

  1. Targeted recruitment and selection of residents

  2. Rigorous selection and support of teacher mentors

  3. Intensive pre-service preparation focused on the specific needs of teachers in diverse schools

  4. Aligned induction support

  5. Strategic hiring of graduates

Focusing on all of these areas leads to the highest probability that teachers in high-need schools will develop the knowledge, skills, and disposition to be successful over time so that their students will meet or exceed learning targets.

It is an extensive focus on clinical preparation that makes the residency model different from any other teacher preparation program in education. From beginning to end, every aspect of the model is designed to provide teachers the knowledge and skills they need to make an immediate impact in the classroom — a difference every one of their students can feel.

Residency Program Design

Recruitment and Selection of Residents and Teaching Mentors


Through a highly selective recruitment process, residencies attract a diverse group of talented college graduates, career changers, and community members. This targeted effort is driven by the unique needs and goals of each school district partner, particularly in high-need areas such as STEM, ELL, and SpEd.


On a parallel path, residencies select a cohort of experienced teachers within the district to be paired with residents for the duration of the school year. These expert teacher educators offer residents a living, breathing model for success in a high-needs classroom. Ongoing support is provided to new teacher-mentors to ensure the provision of time, resources, and coaching skills necessary to lead the development of an emerging teacher.

The Residency Year

Teacher residency programs offer a unique synthesis of theory and practice, combining a yearlong classroom apprenticeship with a carefully aligned sequence of master’s-level coursework. Residents receive a stipend for living expenses throughout their training year, and a subsidized master’s degree upon completion of the program.

Training in Cohorts

Residents train as part of a cohort — a peer group that provides ongoing support and collaborative learning throughout the residency year and beyond. At the beginning of the school year, groups of residents are placed in high-need, high-functioning, urban public schools for their apprenticeship experience. Residents also complete their coursework as a cohort.

A Yearlong Classroom Apprenticeship

Residents spend the full academic year in a district school, developing under the guidance of an experienced mentor teacher. Using a variety of instructional coaching strategies, mentors provide valuable insight into effective teaching methodology, helping residents develop the knowledge, skills and habits of mind that come from years of experience in high-need classrooms. Over the course of the year, teacher residents move from a collaborative, co-teaching role in the classroom to an increasingly demanding, lead-teaching role.  Mentors continuously gather data about resident progress to provide targeted support and feedback designed to ensure that residents are prepared to be effective on day one when they enter their own classroom.

Linking Theory to Practice

In addition to their hands-on work in the classroom, residents engage in master’s-level education coursework designed to inform and enrich the apprenticeship experience. This deep blend of theory and practice makes the residency model a unique route into teaching, helping participants draw meaningful connections between their daily classroom work and the latest in education theory and research.


Residency graduates commit to serving their district for at least three years after the completion of their residency.  Residency programs boast an active alumni teacher support network — a group that values ongoing training and collaboration, and provides invaluable resources and support for graduates as they pursue further professional development. Many residents go on to become teacher mentors, principals and senior administrators in their schools, a benefit their continued commitment earns them.

A Unique Model

New teachers are not being adequately prepared for the classroom. More than 60% of graduates report that their teacher preparation did not prepare them to cope with classroom realities. In the same survey, while student teaching experience was identified by new teachers as “the most valuable aspect of my education program,” more than three-quarters of graduates reported receiving one term or less of student teaching experience.[1]

A more recent 2014 TeachPlus survey of 230 teachers in Massachusetts states that 75% of teachers report that they were insufficiently prepared to meet the needs of students in their first year. [2]

This lack of preparedness is felt in classrooms every year and districts struggle to manage teacher turnover and simultaneously provide quality mentoring experiences and new teacher induction. Beginning teachers have persistently high rates of turnover. Nearly 50 percent of those entering teaching leave within 5 years.[3] This is a continued trend—teacher attrition has been on the rise since the 1980’s. Between 1998 and 2008, the first year teacher attrition rate rose 34 percent (from 9.8 to 13.1 percent).[4] Even within districts there is extreme variation in which schools experience the most significant impact of teacher turnover. In 2004-05, high-poverty, high-minority, urban, and rural public schools experienced the highest rates of turnover.[5]

Time and support from schools and districts equates to a huge investment of resources. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future estimates that the national cost of public school teacher turnover could be as high as $7.3 billion a year. The average cost of losing one teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools was $15,325, and in Chicago Public Schools was $17,872 per leaver. The total cost of turnover in the Chicago Public Schools was estimated at $86 million per year.[6]

The churn of teachers within schools and districts impacts the ability of staff to create strong relationships, establish norms, and implement school improvement strategies. A 2009 CALDER working paper said “High turnover creates instability in schools, making it more difficult to have coherent instruction…[and] can be costly in that time and effort is needed to continuously recruit teachers. In addition to all these factors, turnover can reduce student learning if more effective teachers are the ones more likely to leave. [7]

Compounding the problem for districts, 2012 research from The New Teacher Project (TNTP) found that replacing highly effective teachers is nearly impossible. TNTP studied 90,000 teachers across four urban school districts and found that to replace one high performing teacher could take 11 hires. In addition, they found that the best and worst teachers leave urban schools at similar rates.[8]

Traditional teacher preparation has historically lacked the skills and knowledge to be nimble or responsive to the changing demands in the marketplace for teachers, especially for urban schools. Continuing to prepare teachers in non-hiring areas is not working in our nation’s high-need communities. Beyond a broad need for excellent teacher talent, districts are desperate for quality teachers in the perennial shortage areas of science, technology, math, engineering, special education, and serving English language learners.

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Sources and References

[1] Arthur Levine, Educating School Teachers (Washington, D.C.: The Education Schools Project, 2006), 32,

[2] Teach Plus Massachusetts, Ready on Day One: Teachers Weigh in on Teacher Preparation, February 5, 2015,

[3] Ingersoll, R., & Perda, D. (2009). How high is teacher turnover and is it a problem? Manuscript in preparation.

[4] Ingersoll, R & Merrill, L. Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force. University of Pennsylvania and Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association. May, 2012.

[5] Ingersoll, R and Merrill, L. Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force. University of Pennsylvania and Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association. May, 2012.

[6] Barnes, G., Crowe, E., & Schaefer, B. 2007. The Cost of Teacher Turnover in Five School Districts: A Pilot Study. National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future. Washington, DC.

[7] Who Leaves? Teacher Attrition and Student Achievement. Donald Boyd, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, and James Wyckoff. CALDER Working Paper No. 23. 2009.

[8] TNTP. The Irreplaceables: Understanding the Real Retential Crisis in America’s Urban Schools. 2012. Washington, DC.

[9] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Schools and Staffing Survey, “Teacher Data Files,” 2007–08, unpublished tabulations.