This October, Prepared To Teach kicked off the Quality, Equitable, Affordable Teacher Residency Partnerships to Strengthen the Profession project, expanding the team’s work into six new states: Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Washington, Virginia, and California. The project, which is graciously funded by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, seeks to document how teacher education institutions are redesigning their preparation programs in partnership with districts to create residencies that can address the issue of sustainably funded candidate stipends.
Prepared To Teach is dedicated to finding pathways to support and sustain high-quality teacher preparation so every teacher is ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century classroom. Teacher residencies offer aspiring teachers the opportunity to co-teach with a mentor teacher for an entire year before taking charge of their own classrooms, providing them with more time to hone their skills and develop their confidence.
“Our country is facing a severe teacher shortage, and the cost of obtaining credentials through a quality teacher education program can be pricey, often leading aspiring teachers to enroll in quick entry programs that allow them to become the teacher of record in as little as one week,” said Karen DeMoss, Executive Director, Prepared To Teach. “Sustainably funded teacher residencies can transform education systems by creating more equitable access to the profession and more high-quality, well-prepared teachers who stay in the profession longer and strengthen schools over time. We are grateful for the opportunity to support our new partners in their efforts to expand access to teacher residency programs.”
As part of the new project, university partners will work with local school districts to imagine new ways to use existing dollars within school and district budgets to fund candidate stipends. As universities and districts iron out the logistics, Prepared To Teach will document their process to guide a “learning agenda” that can help inform other programs looking to make a similar shift to sustainable candidate funding.
“Each of our partnerships brings a unique focus to the project and provides us with the opportunity to learn and share a variety of different approaches to how leaders, higher learning institutions, and local school systems can work together to proactively support sustainably funded teacher residencies,” said Divya Mansukhani, Project Analyst, Prepared To Teach, who leads the learning agenda for this work.
For example, the University of South Dakota’s yearlong residency within the School of Education is focused on developing a Grow-Your-Own program in partnership with local Sioux Falls high schools. This new partnership will allow high school seniors to take dual credit education classes that will allow them to finish coursework early and participate in a yearlong residency experience in the school they graduated from. Upon completion of the residency, students will be guaranteed a job in the district. Simultaneously, current residents from their undergraduate program will commit to serving in the district for several years after graduation.
Colorado and Virginia provide opportunities to study statewide collaboration that can support critical policies to strengthen teacher education. Two years ago in Colorado, seven institutions joined together as the Colorado Consortium of Residency Educators to work with Prepared To Teach to build capacity in the state to understand the features of quality residencies. These institutions are now focusing their efforts on developing high-quality, equitable early childhood programs across the state. Four institutions across the Commonwealth of Virginia are collaborating on ways to promote state-level commitments for funding that provide stipends for teacher candidates completing their student teaching requirements through residency norms.
Partners on the West Coast are focusing on developing residency-like models that will benefit all of their aspiring teachers across programs. Western Washington University is focused on developing a deep, reciprocal partnership with one of their school districts to increase the number of effective novice teachers, while partners in Southern California are working to implement yearlong clinical placements across their teacher education programs that service the Los Angeles United School District.
Lastly, the University of New Mexico has set its sights on supporting the area’s large Native American student population. The University aspires to recruit more diverse candidates and implement culturally relevant teaching to raise student academic achievement.
“The dedication of these partners who are working to transform teacher preparation is inspiring. Though the project has really just begun, we have already learned so much and built an amazing national network committed to learning from each other about how to shift the norm of teacher preparation,” said Jasmine Marshall, Assistant Project Director, Prepared To Teach, who oversees this particular project within the broader Prepared To Teach portfolio of work.
To date, Prepared To Teach has supported programs in over 20 states to help develop or document locally appropriate, sustainably funded teacher preparation models that benefit the entire educational ecosystem. “We are looking forward to working with our new partners to further the mission of high-quality, sustainably funded teacher residencies for all aspiring teachers,” said Doug Knecht, Vice President, Bank Street Education Center.