Academic journal article New Waves

Urban Teacher Residencies: Indicators of Successful Recruitment

Academic journal article New Waves

Urban Teacher Residencies: Indicators of Successful Recruitment

Article excerpt

The United States of America has an aging teacher workforce. Within the near future, over one-third of the nation's teacher workforce will reach retirement age (Goldhaber & Walch, 2014), rendering the need for the preparation of highly qualified teachers to take their place. A larger problem is that many teachers are not remaining in the profession; the workforce is dominated by teachers that are under the age of 30 and over the age of 55 (Goldhaber & Walch, 2014). Reduction in class sizes in secondary classrooms, teacher attrition, and an aging workforce combine to create an increasingly dire teacher labor market (Loeb & Reininger, 2004; Goldhaber & Cohen, 2014). One-third of all teachers leave the profession within the first three years, and more than half of all urban teachers leave within five years (Barnes, Crowe, & Schaeffer, 2007), and this is often the result of a lack of preparation, not a lack of passion for teaching (Urban Teacher Residency United1 [UTRU], 2014a). Urban school districts experience an annual teacher attrition rate of about 20-25% (Ingersoll & Perda, 2009), leaving low-income and minority students the hardest hit by this constant turnover (Ingersoll, 2001). This not only means that a population with some of the greatest academic needs has the least experienced teachers to teach them, but that school districts with some of the most thinly stretched resources have to expend millions annually to attract, hire, and train new teachers (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 2007). Funds that could be used to purchase additional classroom resources have to be spent on this task.

Teacher residency models have been offered as a manner in which to prepare effective teachers (UTRU, n.d.). This model draws from aspects of both traditional teacher preparation models and alternative teacher preparation models. Similar to a medical residency model, teacher residency programs feature a pairing of theory and practice, where prospective teachers coteach alongside an established teacher for an entire year while taking course work on pedagogy. The Obama administration has promoted this model and the U.S. Department of Education (2014) has funded grants creating several teacher residency models in urban school districts. Urban teacher residency programs have had success in addressing the issue of urban teacher attrition, with 85% of their graduates remaining in the classroom after their initial four-year commitment of service (UTRU, 2014a). While this success is noteworthy, it remains important to identify those factors that lead to candidates' success in urban school districts. Although the selection process does not guarantee a successful teacher, understanding the selection process will help those who are interested in exploring a teacher residency program. Furthermore, by examining factors of selection, we propose continuing the conversation proposed by Stronge and Hindman (2003) that correlates factors considered in successful selection of teachers as indications of future success. Nevertheless, this paper proposes to discuss the importance of each indicator as individual factors in an applicant's portfolio for admission to the urban teacher residency program under study.

Review of Literature

Teacher Residency Programs

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE] (2010) recommends that along with Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores and grade point averages, multiple items should be taken into consideration when selecting teachers for teacher residency models. Useem (2001) examined teacher recruitment in the School District of Philadelphia. The process was perceived to be exceptionally lengthy, but was also streamlined and involved several assessments and interviews. Similarly, Solomon (2009) considered the recruitment strategies of the Boston Public Schools teacher residency program. While elements of NCATE's recommendation are present, and residents cannot be selected without interviews with both university and school district stakeholders; the most important baseline factor for this program is academic test scores. …

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