Teacher residency programs are growing throughout the United States as research continues to demonstrate their ability to diversify the education workforce and increase retention in the teaching profession. One of the many benefits of the residency model is how coursework is tightly integrated with clinical experience, pairing candidates with expert mentor teachers to co-teach alongside them, allowing candidates to apply what they are learning in the classroom.
As the home of the PEBC Teacher Residency, we’re always looking for ways to highlight the importance and potential of residencies to positively impact the education workforce. A challenge within this ecosystem that we think about is access – due to their structure and the increased cost for universities and nonprofits to provide the residency model, residencies can be out of reach for individuals from low-income families. What levers are available to widen the funnel of potential teachers who could benefit from entering a residency program? In the midst of a national teacher shortage, how can we stem the tide of turnover by training more teachers in a holistic model that leads to stronger retention?
To help answer these critical questions, we worked with Representative Jason Crow (D-CO) and his office on what eventually became Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act, a bipartisan bill Rep. Crow recently introduced in Congress. This legislation would amend the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program to include teacher and leader residency programs as an allowable use of funds under the FWS Program, and would include a priority to target students from low-income families. FWS offers part-time job opportunities to college students, ideally in ways that provide more career-oriented experiences so that students can be better prepared to enter their chosen profession when they graduate. Teacher and leader residencies – which by their nature offer tightly integrated coursework and clinical practice – are a natural fit for the FWS Program, particularly as legislators across the political spectrum seek to prioritize ways that FWS dollars are targeted toward career-oriented experiences, especially students from low-income families.
Our gratitude goes out to Representative Crow and staff for their work on this legislation and their efforts to identify ways to support the residency model at the federal level. While we do not expect this legislation to move beyond the committee level in the current legislative session, we will continue to work with Rep. Crow’s office moving forward on the best ways to advocate for the Teacher, Principal and Leader Residency Access Act in 2021 and beyond.