$75M allocation aims to produce 3,700 teachers in high-demand fields
- With an additional $75 million set aside for teacher residency programs, California lawmakers are hoping to produce 3,700 more well-trained teachers in high-demand fields like math, science and special education; gain more bilingual teachers; improve their retention rates; and boost teacher diversity, Chalkbeat reports.
- California charter schools and school districts that earn the grant money must match the grant funds and will also be required to work with existing university teacher-prep programs that will provide supplemental courses in areas such as classroom management, child development and culturally responsive teaching —and living stipends may also be available to students in the program who must commit to teaching for four-years with the organization that sponsors the residency.
- Past teacher residency programs have produced mixed results in regard to test scores, and they haven't produced as many teachers as expected — though they have increased teacher diversity and retention rates.
Teacher residency programs have not caught on in the past, though the reasons for that are not entirely clear. For student teachers, the reason may be that residency programs require spending an extra year under the scrutiny of a mentor-teacher —a commitment that some students may not be willing to give. Some residency programs also charge students an extra fee, which may be a detriment. For schools, having a resident teacher requires that teacher mentors be willing to commit time to working with a student teacher in a close relationship for a year, which may also be more commitment than some teachers are willing or able to give.
However, a 2017 Stakeholder Perception Report by the National Center for Teacher Residency said surveys reveal a positive experience for most parties involved. Of those surveyed, 94% of principal said they would recommend hiring a residency graduate; 93% of teacher mentors said they would recommend mentoring to another teacher; and 89% of teaching residents said they would recommend the approach to another prospective teacher. In addition, 96% of residency graduates said they felt better prepared to teach because of the residency process.
Residency programs can be very effective if run properlywith strong academic supports and effective mentors. States like California that invest in these programs are attempting to relieve some of the financial burdens for teachers and schools in the process, which may open the gateway for more participation. Schools need more diversity in their teacher ranks and more teachers in high-demand areas. Residency programs can help meet these needs with teachers who are better-equipped to serve in these roles — and more likely to stay in them.