States submitted their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation plans to the Department of Education in April and May of 2017, with a second round in October. Based on input from a wide range of stakeholders, states looked at ways to utilize federal supports to ensure students have access to the most effective teachers, and teachers have the tools they need to be successful. NCTR studied the plans to understand states’ intentions for improving teacher preparation and access to effective educators. In this post, we look specifically at state policies for building and/or sustaining teacher residencies.

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NCTR’s review of state plans found that 15 states and Washington, D.C. discussed using the residency model to improve teacher preparation and effectiveness. While at different points in their study and implementation of the model, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming specifically name the development of residencies as a key effort for moving the needle on teacher effectiveness.

The plans describe a range of state engagement activities from setting definitions, to supporting district-based programs, to launching teacher residency programs for high-need areas, and adopting a full-year clinical requirement for all new teachers. NCTR described several ways for states and districts to promote the expansion of teacher residencies as a strategy to improve teacher effectiveness in our July 2017 report, Recommendations for State Support of Effective Teacher Residencies.

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, ‘Teacher Residency Program’ is defined as:

 A school-based teacher preparation program in which a prospective teacher, for not less than one academic year, teaches alongside an effective teacher, as determined by the state or local educational agency, who is the teacher of record for the classroom, receives concurrent instruction during the year, through courses that may be taught by local educational agency personnel or by faculty of the teacher preparation program; and in the teaching of the content area in which the teacher will become certified or licensed; and acquires effective teaching skills, as demonstrated through completion of a residency program, or other measure determined by the state, which may include a teacher performance assessment.”

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) “…will work through the rules process to define “residency program.” Currently, the ADE has a charter school implementing an intensive three- year training program for aspiring teachers with degrees in STEM fields and no formal teacher training.” The residency program was scheduled to increase its numbers in fall 2017. “The ADE will provide technical assistance to ensure alignment with changing rules and policies for this and new programs that emerge.”

The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education “intends to award $1.5 million in competitive grants from Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act funds for the public charter sector for teacher pipeline initiatives. These grants will support efforts that a) recruit high-quality candidates new to teaching for DC charter school teacher residency or teacher roles, and b) train and/or certify these teachers. Grant awards will be made on a per-teacher basis to nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated history of success working with charter schools on similar projects.”

The Georgia Department of Education will continue to work to promote yearlong residencies for teachers and leaders to strengthen preparation and the pipeline of learner-ready teachers and school-ready leaders to fill the geographic shortages across the state through its State Network for Transforming Educator Preparation.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is “committed to supporting the development of teacher residencies and is currently working to identify any modifications to statutes necessary as well as identifying funds in order for this work to proceed.”

“Illinois, like most every other state, has seen a significant decrease in the number of individuals who attend a college or university in order to obtain licensure to teach. Thus, considering multiple avenues of entry into the profession of teaching is important in order to afford individuals with a sense of calling and connection to specific communities the opportunity to become licensed to teach. ISBE committed to supporting the development of teacher residencies and is currently working to identify any modifications to statute necessary as well as identifying funds in order for this work to proceed.”

Indiana will establish and implement high-quality, rigorous preparation and educator and licensure programs and partnerships, including pre-service residency opportunities.

The state will provide guidance and facilitation for the identification of local education agencies (LEAs) needs, including shortage areas and instructional priorities; alignment of coursework with clinical experiences to address the needs of all students; and analysis of student achievement and growth and educator evaluation data.

The state will also support LEAs and educator preparation providers “with the development of extended clinical experiences to provide preservice teachers with effective teaching skills.”

Louisiana “will use Title II funds to support the development and expansion of yearlong teaching residencies that result in certified teachers and leaders. Funds will be used to support stipends and training for mentor teachers, support for educator preparation providers, and other costs associated with yearlong teaching and leadership residencies.”

Massachusetts “will encourage educator preparation programs and school districts to deepen partnerships to improve pre-service and first-year induction programs, including consideration of teacher residencies.”

Michigan “will utilize Title II, Part A state activities funds to support the co-construction and implementation of context-specific residency-based preparation programs for teachers… These funds will be spent in the context of district partnerships to provide residencies, not directed toward educator preparation institutions to spend on their programs generally.”

New Jersey will leave a large part of the decision making up to districts, with the majority of ESSA funds “allocated to districts which [they] may choose to expend ESSA funds (Title II, Part A in particular) to collaborate with an educator preparation program to create a teacher residency program, whereby a teacher resident receives a stipend for the time he/she spends in the classroom.” The New Jersey Department of Education will provide guidance and support to help districts expend federal funds to best meet student needs.”

District discretion will also direct the majority of Title I funds which they can “expend to meet identified student needs. A district, in consultation with its administrators, educators and community members, is best positioned to determine the needs of the students and educators. A district may choose to expend funds to support educator preparation, residency and recruitment as it deems appropriate to meet identified needs.”

New Mexico will use Title II, Part A funds to establish longer clinical residencies for participants in traditional educator preparation programs. The Public Education Department “plans to move towards requiring teacher preparation programs to have at least a year-long clinical residency while also piloting new methods of preparing alternative-route teachers that are more aligned with current classroom practice. By increasing the focus on classroom practice as the core of teacher preparation, the Department expects to better prepare new classroom teachers to be day one ready.”

New York recognizes “the importance of creating sustainable clinical residency models for teacher and school leader preparation. The New York Department of Education will explore devoting a portion of its Title IIA funding to expand preparation programs that provide greater opportunities for candidates (both teachers and school leaders) to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in authentic settings. This funding may advance residency programs or other innovative preparation models that provide aspiring teachers, principals, and other school leaders with greater opportunities for practical experience throughout their preparation programs.”

Pennsylvania will “expand teacher and principal residency programs, which provide clinical experience and intensive supports, and support initiatives that improve coherence between educators’ pre-service experience, induction, and future professional learning.”

According to Pennsylvania, key characteristics of teacher residencies include:

  • “Strong partnerships between school districts and universities;
  • High-ability candidates/residents to meet specific district hiring needs, especially in fields where there are shortages;
  • A full year of clinical practice teaching alongside an expert mentor teacher
  • Relevant coursework that is tightly integrated with clinical practice;
  • Expert mentor teachers recruited and trained to co-teach with residents;
  • Cohorts of residents in “teaching schools” that model good practices with diverse learners and are designed to help novice residents learn to teach;
  • Ongoing mentoring and support for graduates, and;
  • Financial support for residents in exchange for committing to teach in the sponsoring district for a minimum number of years.”

“Recognizing the importance of clinical experience in helping new teachers and principals–and, by extension, their students–succeed, Pennsylvania’s Department of Education plans to utilize Title II, Part A funding, including a three percent set-aside for supporting principals and school leaders, to support rigorous, Department-approved teacher and leader clinical residency programs through a competitive grant program. This will leverage partnerships between districts and educator preparation programs. These programs would embed at least one year of clinical experience within preparation programs, and would emphasize a residency model in which preparing educators are living and working in the communities and schools where they are learning and serving.”

“Priority consideration will be given to communities that have reported chronic, multiple shortage areas. At the state level, Pennsylvania previously used Title II, Part A funding to support a yearlong clinical pilot for a STEM-focused teacher preparation program. The clinical model prepared student teachers, or ‘residents,’ alongside more experienced cooperating teachers within high- need schools. Results from this pilot suggest that the student teachers/residents felt prepared to teach, and their classroom mentors and site directors reported that participants were more prepared to teach than traditional student teachers with shorter field work experiences. Teacher mentors also reported that their teacher residents excelled in building relationships with students, showing students the real-world application of abstract concepts, trying new instructional strategies, and incorporating technology in the classroom.”

Tennessee “will utilize its Title II, Part A statewide program resources and optional set asides to support teacher and leader residency programs in high-need districts.” The state anticipates “offering competitive opportunities to eligible districts for implementation of teacher and/or principal residency programs. In addition, Tennessee will pursue and support districts with an interest in applying for additional grant dollars through the Title II, Part B Teacher and School Leader Incentive Fund Grant to establish such residency programs for both teachers and leaders in high-need schools.”

“To address chronic shortage areas and current lack of diversity of educators in Tennessee’s urban districts, the department expects to implement teacher residency programs in high-need districts across the state. These residency programs will allow prospective teachers–for a period not less than one academic year–to teach alongside an effective teacher in a mentor/mentee capacity. This training offers candidates an opportunity to demonstrate specific subject and pedagogical content knowledge through a classroom-based performance assessment.” The state reports that these residencies also address issues with attracting and retaining strong candidates.

“Additionally, current residency programs have resulted in higher retention rates for novice teachers. Residencies also offer novice teachers valuable opportunities to learn by engaging with students daily, as well as from their mentor teachers over a longer period of time. This additional classroom or “on the job training” also gives rising educators the experience of learning for an extended term, with opportunities beginning on day one versus mid-semester. Tennessee will utilize its Title II, Part A statewide program resources and optional set asides to support teacher and leader residency programs in high-need districts.”

Washington will develop or assist LEAs by “reforming or improving teacher, principal, or other school leader preparation programs, such as through establishing teacher residency programs and school leader residency programs.”

West Virginia’s Department of Education will work with LEA personnel directors to promote better knowledge and skills for utilizing existing strategies such as loan forgiveness, tuition reimbursement, teacher-in-residency programs, and mentoring and coaching supports.

Wyoming’s Department of Education, “the University of Wyoming College of Education, Wyoming Community Colleges, Wyoming School Districts, and other state partners when identified will collaborate to research the development and implementation of a limited pilot of a one-year residency program to prepare Special Education educators in Wyoming. Stakeholder feedback identified several components to consider when researching this option, including: finding opportunities in rural and/or low income school districts, finding opportunities in school districts experiencing difficulty in attracting and retaining staff for identified positions, opportunities to practice co-teaching, and possible participation in or exposure to professional learning communities (in-district, or regional).”

In Part 3 of our series, we will explore state plans for implementing and incorporating the core components of effective clinical preparation into their educator training. Included in these components are mentorship and induction support, classroom observation, and co-teaching.