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Evaluation: Residency Program Seeing Success in Boston

A recent evaluation of the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) found that program graduates are making a significant impact in Boston Public Schools, providing more racially/ethnically diverse teachers and staying in the classroom at higher rates. A webinar hosted by REL Central earlier this month highlighted the findings and challenges of the evaluation, which was conducted by John Papay and colleagues at Brown University (RI).

The study compared BTR graduates to other novice teachers in the urban school system, asking the following questions:

  1. Does the BTR program prepare more teachers than other pathways in hard-to-staff subjects such as math and science?
  2. Are BTR recruits more racially and ethnically diverse than teachers from other pathways?
  3. Do BTR recruits remain in the district longer than other new hires?
  4. Are BTR teachers more effective in raising student test scores in math and English language arts than teachers with the same level of experience from other pathways?

Using data from a 6-year period representing nearly 300 BTR graduates, researchers answered the first three questions in the affirmative: BTR did supply more new math and science teachers than other pathways; BTR graduates were substantially less likely to be White (but equally likely to be female) than other novice teachers; and 75% of BTR teachers stayed in the district beyond their 3-year commitment, whereas overall retention of new teachers is at about 50%.

The findings on teacher effectiveness had an interesting nuance: Based on a value-added model using student scores on state tests, BTR math teachers were less effective than other novices in their first year, but more effective by their fourth year. In English language arts, however, researchers found little difference in effectiveness.

BTR has prepared more than 500 teachers since its founding in 2003. Its program includes a yearlong residency, course work at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and induction support during graduates’ 3-year teaching commitment. Geared toward teachers for all grade levels and subject areas, the program also prepares all candidates for dual licensure in either special education or English as a second language.

The webinar recording and slide presentation are available here.

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Tim Finklea

Director of Member Engagement, AACTE