WestEd is conducting an external formative evaluation of California’s Teacher Residency Grant Program. Administered by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), the grant program supports local education agencies to develop or expand a teacher residency program in partnership with an institution of higher education (IHE) that has a CTC-approved teacher preparation program. The purpose is to prepare residents to become special education, STEM, and/or bilingual teachers. The formative evaluation activities are intended to provide feedback quickly, thus enabling stakeholders to adjust their work as this initiative evolves. This is the second in a series of evaluation briefs planned for release to all grantees in 2019/20.
Teacher residency programs are intensive pathways into the teaching profession that focus on rigorous clinical preparation. They integrate credentialing coursework with a clinical placement in the public school classroom of an expert mentor teacher, for a full academic year. Developed and operated by a partnership between a local school district and a university or college that has a state-approved education program (and sometimes other partners, such as a local union), a residency program serves as a pipeline for meeting specific district workforce needs (e.g., more special education teachers). Each one is guided by a partnership team with representatives from both the district and its partnering institution of higher education (IHE). WestEd’s formative evaluation of the teacher residency programs that are funded through California’s Teacher Residency Grant Program focuses on a range of research-based aspects of the teacher residency model, which are articulated in the residency characteristics developed by the California Teacher Residency Lab, a philanthropy funded support system for residency programs in the state. Drawing from the first year of evaluation, this brief shares early findings on four of those aspects: partnership, resident recruitment, mentorship, and alignment of coursework and clinical practice. The partnership between an IHE and a K–12 system must be strong enough to support the collaborative work required to launch and operate the teacher residency program, including, for example, effectively allocating resources; developing new staffing models; designing or redesigning candidates’ coursework and clinical experience; and developing sustainable funding models. A high-quality resident recruitment process is essential in creating a pool of diverse, high-ability candidates whose interests (e.g., teaching special education) and whose potential align with partner districts’ specific hiring needs. 2 Mentor teachers are central to the professional growth and development of teacher residents, so the careful selection and ongoing development of these mentors is critical to an effective program.4 Finally, alignment between residents’ clinical experiences and their campus-based coursework is critical if residents are to have the kind of coherent experience that best supports their learning.
Questions or feedback?
WestEd points of contact for this evaluation are Melissa Eiler White at mwhite@WestEd.org and Sola Takahashi at stakaha@WestEd.org.