5.8.24 – Austin American-Statesman

“‘I feel so much more prepared': How a New Texas Program Could Help with Teacher Retention” 

By Keri Heath

Excerpts from this article:


Texas education officials hope a newly approved certificate for aspiring teachers who complete a residency program will encourage more potential educators to complete the rigorous program and enter the field better prepared.

School districts statewide have struggled to retain early-career teachers, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and some education industry experts say studies show such yearlong programs — which are growing in popularity — create better developed first-year teachers and better outcomes for students.

The State Board of Education approved the new certificate — the enhanced standard certificate — last month.

The certificate recognizes students who complete a residency on their path to obtaining a teaching license in Texas.

The state hoped to standardize a practice that is already becoming popular in Texas, said Emily Garcia, associate commissioner for educator certification and enforcement at the Texas Education Agency. 

About 40 of the state’s educator preparation programs already use a residency program.

“The residency prep route creates a path to the classroom that’s akin to the medical model for preparing doctors,”
Garcia said.

“In the program, a teaching candidate would be embedded in a teacher’s classroom and act more like a second teacher,”
she said.

While student teaching is common, especially among college-based teaching programs, a residency is typically longer and more intensive, Garcia said.

A typical student teaching program involves a minimum of 490 hours in a classroom, while a residency has a 750-hour minimum requirement, according to the TEA.

“The more prepared a teacher is, the more experience and practice a teacher has, the better able they are to meet their kids' needs in their first few years of teaching,”
Garcia said.



Only 58% of entry-level teachers in Texas are still working in public education five years later, according to TEA data.

A larger share — 34% — of new hires are noncertified teachers this year.

Residency programs give aspiring teachers a more realistic understanding of what it’s like to be in the classroom all year, which helps better prepare them for their first few years of teaching,”
said Stacey Edmonson, dean of the College of Education at Sam Houston State University.

The university
[Sam Houston State University] started introducing a residency model to the university’s education degree about six or seven years ago and is working on transitioning every student to this kind of program.

“We anticipated pushback from the teacher candidates because it's more work for them,” Edmonson said. “They're out in the schools twice as long.
[However] They were our biggest cheerleaders for that. They said, I feel so much more prepared. I'm walking in as a second-year teacher instead of a brand-new teacher.

Teacher residents are also typically, though not always, paid.

The residency certificate will require teaching candidates to get paid for their work, though that money could come from their college, preparation program or the district they work in.

…“It’s important to pay the residents to remove barriers for a yearlong commitment to learning,”
Garcia said.