The best, most transformative teacher residencies are successful when they can survive short-term financial challenges and adapt to meet demand. When these abilities are in balance, residencies are able to maintain quality and expand services over time.

In Design for Impact, NCTR’s new guide on building financial sustainability, we explain the path to solid financial footing: Minimizing expenses while maximizing revenues. Most well-run programs are adept at limiting expenses. It’s the maximizing revenues they find most tricky, especially when they over-rely on philanthropy or one-time grants.

One strategy: Have partner districts invest more significantly in residency programs.

While most residency programs generate cost-savings for districts by reducing turnover and improving retention of new and experienced educators–in addition to improving student learning–they do not always receive direct funding from their partner schools and districts. When residency programs fail to capture a share of the savings they produce, they miss out on an important funding source that would help diversify their revenues and make programs less susceptible to shocks.

With increasing amounts of data showing the positive impact of the residency model, programs are growing more confident that they produce high-quality teachers and save districts money. Knowing the worth of the investment, how can partnering districts contribute to the program?

Know the costs, evaluate the impact, make the case

What steps should teacher residencies take to move toward sustainability? Know the costs, evaluate the impact, and make the case.

Estimate how much the district spends on recruitment, preparation, placement, and induction. Some groups have pegged the cost of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding a new teacher at $17,000. Using the district’s annual teacher turnover rate, a residency program can estimate what it costs the district to hire, onboard, and train replacements. Finally, assess how much the district spends on professional development and what evidence there is that it has improved teacher quality.

Gather data showing how long residency graduates remain in the district, and juxtapose it against the district turnover rate. Retaining effective teachers is a powerful display of impact. NCTR produces several annual reports that may help inform a program’s case for shared funding.

The financial challenges confronting residencies can be overcome with smart, intentional planning and strategic thinking.

Residencies must also demonstrate that they produce effective teachers. To do that, program evaluations must include multiple measures of teacher performance, such as student achievement, teacher observations, and stakeholder perceptions. Other benefits that programs provide–such as increasing the diversity of the district’s teaching staff–are also worth sharing.

Don’t expect numbers alone to carry the day, however. When presented with a strong value proposition and compelling evidence of program impact, the school district partners would, ideally, recognize the value offered by the residency and invest in its success. In a more likely scenario, however, the district may not have the flexibility or resources to do that right away, and so an alternate arrangement might be splitting the savings, or entering into a “pay for success” plan where districts increase their contributions once program goals are met.

The financial challenges confronting new and existing residencies are complex, but they can be overcome with smart, intentional planning and strategic thinking. If you want to learn more about financially stable residency funding models, download Design for Impact, our new guidebook that helps programs develop short- and long-term budgets using forecasts and models under different funding scenarios. To access the financial modeling tool, please contact NCTR at contactus@nctresidencies.org.