Does Practice-Based Teacher Preparation Increase Student Achievement? Early Evidence from the Boston Teacher Residency
Teacher-residency programs, which couple graduate-education coursework with K-12 classroom-teaching experience, have a certain cachet these days. But do they work? While such programs have for many years demonstrated higher retention rates among their graduates, this paper digs into the details of the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) to see whether quality is there, too. The upshot: yes, but it takes a while. Using fourth- and eighth-grade state achievement data, the researchers determined that BTR graduates are significantly less effective in math during their first couple of years than are other new teachers (both alternatively certified and traditionally trained). This pattern held for each of BTR’s seven cohorts. On the ELA front, BTR teachers performed comparably to other new teachers in their first couple years. By the fourth and fifth years, however, BTR teachers surpassed other veteran teachers (of similar or greater experience levels) in both subjects. What’s more, BTR teachers were more likely to stay with the profession: The five-year retention rate for program alumni was 24 percentage points higher than the district average for those hired in 2004-05 and 2006-07. Looking at input measures (increasing the population of minority teachers and filling hard-to-staff positions), the residency program fares well, too. Still, the research came with many caveats, beginning with a very small sample size. As a preliminary investigation, this paper offered many interesting insights and raises even more questions—specifically around residency programs’ individual components, system effects, and costs. So, researchers, have at it!
John P. Papay, Martin R. West, Jon B. Fullerton, and Thomas J. Kane, Does Practice-Based Teacher Preparation Increase Student Achievement? Early Evidence from the Boston Teacher Residency (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2011).
blog comments powered by Disqus