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District investing in teacher residency program for 2018-19

Working with four institutions, the District is making another effort to fill shortage areas and increase the diversity of the workforce.

Stephen Flemming is among the 4 percent of teachers in Philadelphia District schools who are African American males.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

In an effort to recruit more teachers for high-need areas like math and science and to attract more men and people of color to the profession, the District is investing $4 million in a teacher residency program in partnership with four institutions.

Up to 50 educators will be placed with trained mentor teachers starting in September. The District will pay them, heavily subsidize their tuition, and guarantee them jobs when they are certified. The certifying institution will also provide two years of support after they are hired.

A number of the residents will be students at Drexel, which is working with the National Center for Teacher Residencies. A nonprofit based in Chicago, NCTR provides programming, support, and research to the teachers, their mentors, and the certifying institution to maximize the effectiveness of the experience.

The District will subsidize up to $7,500 of the tuition, so students only pay $2,100 for the 12-month program. During the process, the participants have positions with salaries of $38,000 within District schools and are eligible for full benefits through the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Besides Drexel, the other participating institutions are Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Relay Graduate School of Education, which was founded by charter operators and seeks to provide an “alternative” approach to teacher education.

Overall, the District’s budget for the four schools is just over $4 million. It allocates to each university $8,500 per student involved, $7,500 to subsidize tuition and $1,000 to pay mentors. To qualify for the program, students must pass the relevant Praxis exams and background checks, and have an appropriate bachelor’s degree. There is also an interview process.

The National Center for Teacher Residencies has launched 36 teacher residency programs across the country, and about 3,500 teachers have been trained in this way.

Targeting high-need and low-income areas in both rural and urban communities, more than half of the teachers trained by the programs are people of color. Nationally, the teaching profession is much less diverse: less than 20 percent of teachers are people of color.

The program also generates a lower teacher turnover rate, according to NCTR. Residents create a relationship during the training process and maintain it due to the guaranteed job offer. The resulting loyalty decreases the chances of their departure.

“It’s a national organization. It’s a great way to compare best practices with other institutions and other residency programs,” said Drexel Graduate School of Education spokesman Anthony Hopkins on why Drexel decided to partner with NCTR. “For us, it’s about being part of a larger national picture, interacting with others that are part of it, and developing the best teacher residency program we can offer.”

According to NCTR, their principal surveys indicate that new teachers who go through such residencies outperform peers, have more effective skills, which leads to higher student achievement.

Disclosure: Anthony Hopkins is a member of the Notebook’s board of directors.

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