For the third consecutive year Dallas Teacher Residency (DTR) and its university partner, Texas A&M University – Commerce (TAMUC), graduated its largest cohort of teacher residents. Twenty-two future teachers successfully completed the 14-month teacher residency program this past August 2017, which brings the total number of DTR program graduates to 50. This third cohort earned graduate degrees in teaching and teaching certificates in select content areas for grades K-12 and was extremely diverse – Fifty-eight percent were people of color, nearly 40 percent came from outside Texas, and 80 percent were the first in their family to earn a graduate degree. One hundred percent of these graduates accepted full-time teaching positions in Title-1 schools for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.
Beyond producing another cohort of well-prepared and committed teachers to teach in urban school districts, the 2016-2017 year proved significant in additional ways for Dallas Teacher Residency. DTR’s third year of operation demonstrated the organizations ability to extend the reach and impact of the program, having grown from 14 teachers at a single campus in Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) in its first year, to supporting over 70 teachers across 12 campuses in Dallas and Mesquite ISD in year three. This expansion was made possible by DTR securing key financial commitments at the national, state, and local levels (most notably) from the following; Bill & Melinda Gates Teacher Transformation Center; the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; The Meadows Foundation; The Dallas Foundation; and, The Harold Simmons Foundation. Expansion takes place once again in 2017-2018 as DTR welcomes its fourth cohort of 27 Teacher Residents to Dallas. Dallas Teacher Residency now supports nearly 120 resident teachers, mentor teachers, and program graduates who will provide direct instruction to almost 6,500 North Texas K-12 students for the 2017-2018 school year.
DTR is unwaveringly committed to measuring program quality for continuous improvement. DTR measures program success with student achievement data, state certification exam passage rates, job placement rates, teacher retention rates, principal satisfaction rates, and other qualitative and quantitative metrics. DTR is one of 24 teacher residency programs nationally selected to be part of the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR), Next Generation Network (NGN). As such, DTR’s program performance is benchmarked against other NCTR program partners and held to strict quality standards. NCTR’s and NGN’s “End of Year Surveys” indicated that DTR scored, on average, 9 percentage points higher than other residency programs. Additionally, DTR’s entire first Cohort (2014-2015) is eligible for evaluation under the 2017-2018 Distinguished Teacher Review Evaluation protocol – an evaluation protocol reserved only for teachers rated in the top 25 percent of their respective teaching category. While these are early indicators, these successes demonstrate
DTR’s ability to maintain a high level of program quality and increased impact.
The 2017-2018 school year presents a new set of challenges for DTR, but also continued opportunities for innovation. DTR will serve more students, teachers, and school partners which requires increasingly streamlining the program to ensure core, successful, attributes are not lost through continual growth. Nonetheless, DTR sees advantages in and will continue to pursue strategic opportunities with additional higher education partners and ISDs to increase not only its exposure, but accountability to the students and schools it works with and impacts. DTR also plans to explore program and content innovations to further extend its impact.
For an organization that started as an entrepreneurial idea on a single sheet of paper DTR’s opportunities are flourishing. DTR has matured, grown stronger, and will continue to build upon its humble foundation to raise the level of dialogue and discourse on teacher preparation to ensure students in North Texas achieve their academic goals by having access to highly effective classroom teachers every school year.