Intensifying Teacher Training
Teacher turnover in the United States is startlingly high, especially in high-need Title I schools, where annual turnover rates are nearly 50 percent higher than in non-Title I schools. Research has shown that new teachers frequently leave schools in high-need communities because they feel inadequately prepared and supported when they enter the classroom. In response to this need, teacher residency programs designed to provide longer-term and more intensive pre-service classroom experience for teachers-in-training have gained ground, growing from a handful of residency programs in the early 2000s to three dozen programs in 2018. The 2018-19 budget for the State of California includes $75 million marked specifically for grants to support residency programs across the state, and this influx of funds is expected to produce around 3,700 new teachers. Residency programs have also cropped up in cities like Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Seattle, while established teacher residency programs like the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UChicago UTEP) continue to evolve in ways that reflect the unique needs of large urban school districts. For example, UChicago UTEP requires students to take a Foundations Seminar that involves critical analysis of the specific education, housing, and economic policies that have impacted many urban neighborhoods as well as thoughtful examination of norms related to gender identity and sexuality, with the ultimate aim of helping aspiring educators create more inclusive classroom environments.
Why It Matters
A national poll revealed that 77 percent of new teachers did not feel prepared to meet the needs of their students when they first entered the classroom, pointing to the need for new approaches to teacher education. Residency programs, in which aspiring teachers work with veteran teachers in classrooms for a full year before entering the teaching workforce, are growing more common and evidence of their effectiveness in stemming the tide of teacher turnover continues to mount. Yet the number of teachers in the workforce who have gone through a residency program versus a more traditional university-based teacher education program or postgraduate accreditation program remains low. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are roughly 3.2 million full-time teachers employed in the United States. By comparison, the National Center for Teacher Residencies reports that, through the course of its history, its member residency programs have graduated only 3,500 teachers.