Years of research have demonstrated that the single greatest catalyst driving high levels of student achievement in the classroom is an effective classroom teacher. Yet roughly 50 percent of all urban public school teachers leave teaching within five years; which is largely attributed to new teachers being underprepared and under supported when they first enter the classroom after completing their respective teacher preparation programs. Not only does this create long-term economic consequences for urban school districts as the result of low rates of teacher retention, but also, (and) more importantly, students suffer irreparable academic consequences.
This problem is magnified in Dallas (and other surrounding school districts in North Texas), where in each of the past three years, Dallas Independent School District has lost nearly 20 percent of its teacher workforce, requiring the district to hire on average about 2,000 new teachers every year. Coupled with the fact that the quality of teacher certification programs vary significantly throughout the state, there is a great need to ensure that newly hired teachers in Dallas County are equipped with high quality preparation upon entering classrooms. Dallas Teacher Residency also, unlike traditional teacher preparation programs, explicitly prepares teachers to teach in specific partnering school districts, allowing our preparation model to directly align with district goals and initiatives.
Founded in 2013 as a non-profit by Co-Founders Rob DeHaas and Elizabeth Kastiel, Dallas Teacher Residency aims to create both high-quality educators, in addition to creating support systems, which ensure educators have the opportunity to impact levels of student academic achievement through teaching. While research confirms that the most important in-school factor in a student’s success is a strong teacher – far too many teachers report that they are under-prepared when they first enter the classroom after completing their respective teacher preparation programs.
Today, there is strong evidence that teacher residencies are improving student achievement and teacher retention. Nationally, leaders from a variety of sectors are pointing towards teacher residencies as a model for strengthening the preparation of all teachers.
Dallas Teacher Residency serves as a strategic response to local urban school districts’ need to recruit, prepare, and retain effective classroom teachers to serve urban students in urban schools and classrooms – to ensure that all students regardless of zip code are provided with a high quality of education. Through a rigorous and purposeful year-long apprenticeship program patterned after a medical residency model, Dallas Teacher Residency is a district-based teacher education program that pairs master’s level education content with a rigorous full-year classroom apprenticeship with trained mentor teachers in urban classrooms.
Dallas Teacher Residency is unique both in its training methods and in its pursuit to train teachers to become effective, specifically for the challenging and resource scarce environments of an urban school district.
Dallas Teacher Residency believes a yearlong teacher residency – a rigorous training program that values practice along with content and theory and where future practitioners would apply what they were learning by working in the field alongside an experienced professional – will ensure that when new teachers enter into the classroom alone for the first time they will be better prepared to teach in urban schools.
In order to dramatically improve educator quality in a way that will produce significant gains in student academic outcomes, there is a need to think beyond quick fixes and trendy policy changes. Even long term reform efforts have proven ineffective if the vision does not include a comprehensive evaluation and refinement of the system that prepares and develops teachers. There is a need to implement a vision of what will be done to create a teacher workforce that is ready for a strong start once in the classroom – a vision that is very much supported by the collaborative efforts of key stakeholders working together with Dallas Teacher Residency, and in general, by high quality teacher residency programs across the country.