Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a teaching residency?

    A teaching residency is a different way of preparing teachers for today’s classrooms that is modeled on medical residencies for new doctors. Teacher residents learn to teach by working in real schools, in real classrooms with real kids. For more than a year, they work under the tutelage of experienced, expert teachers who are trained mentors and coaches. Simultaneously, they complete graduate-level coursework that is directly linked to what is happening in their classrooms. Upon completing their residency, graduates are certified to teach, often with a master’s degree in teaching, and are hired in the school district where they trained. 

  • How is a teacher residency different from other teacher preparation programs?

    A residency provides teachers with an immersive, real-school training that cannot be duplicated in a college classroom. By the time they finish their residency, graduates will have spent a full school year working alongside teacher mentors who have been trained to coach novice educators. Altogether, a resident teacher will spend about 1,400 hours working with students before they graduate, in addition to their graduate-level coursework. After they graduate, residents continue to receive personalized, expert coaching for two more years because we know that ongoing support and learning is crucial to a teacher’s development and growth.

     By contrast, a traditional college preparation program typically offers a student teaching assignment that lasts only about 10 weeks, with little to no follow-up coaching. A 2014 report from the National Council for Teacher Quality found that, nationally, only about 5 percent of teacher colleges incorporate the key elements of a quality program into their student-teaching experience. So-called “alternative certification” programs offer even less training and coursework.

  • What does NCTR do?

    NCTR is a national non-profit organization dedicated to developing, supporting, and sustaining effective residency programs serving high-need school districts. To do that, NCTR partners with school districts, institutions of higher education, and local advocates to create and establish residency programs in their communities. Our innovative residency program curriculum, more than a decade in the making, sets the standard for teacher training. Since our founding in 2007, NCTR has helped establish 36 residency programs in 17 states. These programs have trained more than 3,500 teachers to work in more than 50 school districts and charter school organizations. NCTR represents the collective voice of these residencies. 

  • Does NCTR run residency programs?

    NCTR does not operate residency programs. Rather, we provide expert assistance, strategic counseling, and curriculum services to local groups and districts that want to build their own residency programs in their communities.

  • Where does NCTR work?

    We work primarily with high-need and low-income communities, both rural and urban. More than 90 percent of the teachers who graduate from a residency program work in Title I schools. A full list of current residency programs that NCTR helped to establish and develop can be found at Join the Network/Our Partners.



  • What evidence is there that residencies work?

    Our network of 36 teacher residency programs select smart, dedicated people and train them to be great teachers. And we know they are great teachers because research and data show that graduates of teacher residencies increase student achievement more than traditionally-trained teachers. For example, out of 39 teacher preparation programs in Tennessee in 2014-15, the Memphis Teacher Residency had the highest percentage of graduates meeting and exceeding student growth averages on the state’s value-added assessment system, according to state data. In Colorado, graduates of the Denver Teacher Residency outperformed all other new teachers in every aspect of that district’s evaluation system, according to 2013-14 data from Denver Public Schools. These are just two examples.

    Principals who hire and supervise residency graduates report that they are exceptionally well prepared for today’s classrooms. In 2017, NCTR surveyed more than 70 principals who had hired teachers from 19 residency programs and found that:

    • 9 out of 10 said residents outperformed new teachers prepared through other programs.
    • 9 out of 10 said residents improved achievement and student learning at their school.
    • 94 percent of the principals said they would recommend hiring a residency graduate to another principal.

  • Are there other ways in which residencies impact districts and schools?

    Residencies are good way to combat teacher turnover, which is a perennial–and expensive– problem in urban and rural districts. Some districts spend upwards of $18,000 on every new teacher they hire–for things like recruiting, advertising, onboarding, and training. Much of this money is wasted as more than half of new teachers quit within three years. The cost to students is even steeper, as this churn subjects them to a revolving door of ill-prepared young teachers. In contrast, residency graduates are ready-to-teach on day one, and are committed to their schools. More than 85 percent of them are still teaching in their high-need schools three years after being hired. So not only are residency graduates more effective young teachers, but they also reduce teacher turnover in their schools, which saves their communities a lot of otherwise wasted money and effort.

  • Are residencies more expensive than traditional teacher prep programs?

    Residencies are smart investments when you consider how much money colleges spend preparing and educating new teachers, and how much districts spend recruiting, hiring, and training them. Teacher residencies provide districts with a steady stream of well-trained teachers who are committed to their schools, while their low attrition rates mean substantial savings for school districts.

  • Who funds residencies?

    Funding for residencies comes from multiple sources, including school districts that provide classrooms and mentor teachers, and institutions of higher education that confer master’s degrees at the end of the residency program. In addition, some states and philanthropies also support residency programs around the country.