Teacher residencies better at keeping grads on the job than other programs, study finds

Urban teacher residencies, like the one launched in Seattle in the fall of 2013, keep a higher percentage of their graduates in the districts that train them than other other teaching preparation programs, according to new data from Mathematica Policy Research.

The residencies prepare aspiring teachers primarily through a year-long apprenticeship with an experienced teacher while the novices take coursework leading to a master’s degree.

The study found that 82 percent of teachers trained in a dozen residency programs remained in their same district from the spring of 2012 to the fall of 2013 compared with 72 percent of teachers prepared by other programs.

Seattle doesn’t yet have three years of retention data, so it wasn’t included in the study, but all 21 graduates of the program’s first class are continuing to teach for a second year in the district, according to the Seattle Teacher Residency.

The Seattle program confers a Master of Teaching degree from the University of Washington, which counts as a teaching credential. Residents in turn commit to teaching at least five years in the Seattle school district.

So far, 80 residents have been trained,  including 31 novices in the third class who will begin training in Seattle classrooms this fall.

Seattle’s program was one of the first in the country to include the teachers union as an equal partner, along with Seattle Public Schools, the University of Washington and the Alliance for Education, a nonprofit representing local businesses and philanthropies. The Alliance has providing the startup funding, which was about $1 million in the first year and expected to be almost $1.6 million this year.

Teacher residencies are an example of efforts to revamp teacher education programs noted by UW education professor Ken Zeichner and Hilary Conklin at DePaul University in a paper for Teachers College Record criticizing how research has been misused in debates over the quality of teacher preparation in the U.S.

Zeichner and Conklin also wrote a piece Wednesday about their  paper  for the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog.