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Report Explores Economics of Funding Teacher Residencies

Last month, AACTE cosponsored an event organized by PREPARED TO TEACH: Sustainable Funding for Quality Teacher Preparation at Bank Street College of Education to present its new report on the economics of teacher residencies. AACTE Director of Programs and Professional Learning Amanda Lester served as a panelist at the event along with New York Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education John D’Agati and Prepared To Teach Director (and report author) Karen DeMoss.

The report, Following the Money: Exploring Residency Funding Through the Lens of Economics, dives into the realities of funding high-quality teacher preparation and calls on policy makers to understand the financial barriers candidates face.

“Without financial support during clinical practice, student teaching essentially becomes an unpaid job for aspiring teachers,” DeMoss said. “Requiring even more preservice clinical practice for traditional programs creates unsupportable financial pressures on aspiring teachers, resulting in strong economic incentives to enter teaching through routes that do not provide enough preparation. We need to build our understanding of the economic issues behind teacher preparation before we can fully address the problems.”

In addition to driving candidates to fast-track licensure programs, these economic pressures dissuade many from entering the profession at all and contribute to the lack of racial/ethnic and linguistic diversity in the profession. “Individual candidates from diverse backgrounds must be able to access high-quality preparation opportunities on an equitable and affordable basis if the nation wants diverse, well-qualified teachers for every classroom,” the report states.

Paid residencies could solve three common problems in teacher preparation, according to the report:

  1. Teacher candidates must pay for their own clinical practice, a full-time commitment. (Instead, they should be paid for their time.)
  2. Student teachers are disengaged from school functions outside their classroom. (Instead, residents should be integral to school staffing.)
  3. Program graduates feel unprepared to teach on their own. (Instead, new teachers should have preservice experiences that build their professional capacity to lead a classroom.)

Even modest funding can make a difference in removing barriers for candidates, and the report profiles programs and partnerships that have managed to reduce their costs to just $20,000 per resident—including costs for mentor developments and supports. Collaboration and strategic, systemic efforts appear to pay off, but the report outlines the complexity of funding streams and networks that need to be considered to achieve sustainability.

PREPARED TO TEACH, formerly known as the Sustainable Funding Project, advocates for every aspiring teacher to be able to enter the field through high-quality pathways, including financially supported yearlong residencies where teacher candidates work alongside accomplished teachers to build their understanding of and skills for teaching. Residencies are one exemplar of clinical teacher preparation cited by the AACTE Clinical Practice Commission in its recent report calling for a profession-wide pivot toward a shared understanding of high-quality clinical practice.

The Bank Street event also marked the launch of a project supporting funded teacher residencies in New York State. For more information about that project or other work of PREPARED TO TEACH, contact Karen DeMoss at kdemoss@bankstreet.edu.

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