The Boston Teacher Residency program is generally one of my go-to examples of how to create a pipeline of really good teachers that want to stay in the classroom. Teachers start with a mentor teacher and take over their own classroom after two years of incubated training. The program seeks to recruit a high number of minority teachers and is generally touted as a better option than Teach for America (where teachers only commit to two years total). Sounds like a win-win, right?
Andy Rotherham over at Eduwonk suggests that we look a little closer at the results of a recent evaluation of BTR before deciding to jump on or off the bandwagon. He asks a great question in light of the fact that BTR teachers seem to struggle a lot in their first two years (meaning they may not be doing much for kids in their classrooms) but go on to be good career teachers: ” The harder issue is the question of just how much adverse impact are we willing to tolerate in the service of other goals?”
This question could be asked of a number of education reform ideas: TFA (TFA training usually happens during summer school with students who arguably need the best, most effective teachers), any remediation programs for teachers with low evaluations (they are still teaching kids while being given a second shot), independent, new charter schools (school founders may have no experience in school management), etc.
Some unproven ideas (and teachers) turn out to be gamechangers. Some are terrible and take kids down with them. What’s the right measure? What do you think?