About Boston Teacher Residency
Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) is a master’s program in education that recruits talented college graduates, career changers and community members and gives them the tools they need to make an immediate impact in the classrooms of the Boston Public Schools (BPS). Teacher Residents spend the full academic year in a BPS classroom, teaching alongside an experienced mentor and applying theory to practice through rigorous coursework. Their commitment earns them a master’s degree in education from UMass Boston, a Massachusetts Initial Teacher License and credit toward a dual license in Special Education.
BTR’s mission is to drive significant student achievement gains through the recruitment, preparation and support of exceptional teachers in Boston. By placing an emphasis on preparation in the urban classroom setting and providing extensive ongoing support, BTR directly addresses the high teacher turnover rates that cost districts millions and leave students with inexperienced teachers. Hands-on learning in the classroom is paired with targeted master’s-level coursework, giving Residents both the practical and theoretical foundation for success throughout their three-year commitment to the BPS and beyond.
Since graduating its first class in 2004, BTR has prepared a growing network of over 290 highly effective teachers who continue to raise the bar for excellence in schools throughout the city.
In 2003, then-Superintendent Thomas Payzant was approached by Strategic Grant Partners, a new local foundation, with a simple question — if you could fund a results-driven initiative for the BPS, what would it be? His answer: a program designed to recruit and prepare a steady stream of excellent teachers for the district.
Unlike many urban districts across the nation, BPS did not face a pure teacher shortage. But the motivation for Payzant’s decision had less to do with the quantity of applicants and much more to do with these key factors:
Preparation: Whereas in years past what a teacher taught and how a teacher taught varied widely from school to school and classroom to classroom, BPS was determined to move toward a more coherent, research-based approach to instruction. BTR would prepare teachers to hit the ground running — teachers ready to implement BPS’ instructional agenda from day one.
Quality: With a growing consensus in the research and policy fields that teacher quality is the most important factor in student achievement, Dr. Payzant was determined to prepare a better brand of educator. By providing Residents with the practical experience and ongoing support that lead to success in the urban classroom, BTR would be a steady source of quality teachers for the district.
Retention: Every three years, BPS was replacing almost half of its new workforce, having invested significantly in teachers who were leaving the district too soon. This revolving door effect was especially concerning in light of evidence that teacher effectiveness steadily increases over the first three to five years, meaning the district was losing teachers just as they became effective. BPS needed a way not only to prepare quality teachers, but to retain them as well.
High-Needs Expertise: BPS had a set of clearly identified high-needs areas — among them, mathematics, science, special education and English Language Learners. Yet a disproportionate number of BPS applicants held their expertise in areas outside of the district’s most pressing needs. BTR would be a key driver in preparing more teachers in these high-needs areas. In addition, the program would seek to recruit a more diverse group of applicants.
Considering these pressing needs, Superintendent Payzant made the strategic decision to launch BTR in 2003. The program has made remarkable progress on these district goals, attracting national attention for its unique approach and contributing key learning to emerging Residency programs by co-founding and partnering with Urban Teacher Residency United.