Arizona teacher residency program aimed to help with teacher shortage, retention

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Posted at 10:53 AM, Oct 25, 2021

PHOENIX — Arizona education leaders and Northern Arizona University unveiled a new teacher residency program Monday, aimed to recruit, prepare, and retain K-12 teachers while helping with the current teacher shortage.

Arizona Teacher Residency is the first-of-its-kind graduate program in the state and is modeled after medical residencies, according to a release.

The Arizona Department of Education made the concept possible after awarding the Arizona K12 Center at NAU with a $5 million grant through emergency recovery funds to design and launch the Arizona Teacher Residency.

The program is set to address the state's teacher shortage and high educator turnover rate.

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During a press conference Monday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman spoke about the program's need and potential.

“Through this extended fieldwork, and the master's degree coursework that revolves around this experience, residents truly learn what it means to develop and sustain themselves as teachers,” Hoffman said. “As a result, residencies have a strong track record of advancing teacher retention, and student achievement, too. Now is the time to establish a teacher residency program as another meaningful solution to addressing our teacher shortage.”

Those looking to become teachers will be provided with in-classroom experience, living stipends, a master's degree, and a job with a partnering district.

The education department says the two-year program prepares recent college graduates from any degree program and mid-career switchers to become successful classroom teachers.

The residency program will begin accepting applications this winter with residents beginning the program in the summer of 2022.

For its first year, Arizona Teacher Residency will work with Title 1 elementary school districts in the Phoenix area with the hopes of expanding to high schools and rural areas in the next couple of years, the education department said.

“Access to education is the great equalizer in mobility, and a high-quality teacher is the largest influence in any child’s educational achievement,” he said. “NAU is proud to build on the accomplishments of diversifying our teaching force and attracting individuals to this wonderful profession by adding the teacher residency program through the grant provided by the Arizona Department of Education today.”

According to officials, teachers residencies have helped boost teacher retention. The Learning Policy Institute says 70-80% of residency graduates have remained in the classroom after five years.

Click here to learn more about Arizona Teacher Residency.