Arizona Superintendent of Education Kathy Hoffman

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman

(The Center Square) – The Arizona Department of Education announced the creation of a teacher residency program aimed at helping recruit, prepare and retain K-12 teachers.

Modeled after the residency program currently in place for medical students, this will provide aspiring teachers with classroom experience, a living stipend and a master’s degree.

“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,” Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, said at a press conference Monday. “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 accepted into the two-year program will attend a two-week summer orientation, followed by a one-year classroom apprenticeship under a supervising teacher, followed by a year as the teacher-of-record in a classroom. Participants will receive a salary from their school district during the second year and complete graduate studies through Northern Arizona University.

Those accepted into the program must agree to teach for at least three years in one of the partner districts after completing their residency.

Applications will be accepted over the winter, with the first group starting in the fall of 2022.

The program will start off partnering with Title 1 elementary schools in the Phoenix area to expand to all grade levels and rural areas in the future. A Title 1 school has at least 40% of the students considered low-income by qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches.

Applicants can be recent college graduates from any degree program or those in mid-career who want to get into teaching.

The state created the residency by awarding a $5 million grant to the Arizona K12 Center at Northern Arizona University to design, launch and expand the program.

“Access to education is the great equalizer in mobility, and a high-quality teacher is the largest influence in any child’s educational achievement,” NAU President Jose Luis Cruz Rivera said in a statement. “NAU is proud to build on the accomplishments of diversifying our teaching force and attracting individuals to this wonderful profession.”

According to the Learning Policy Institute, 70% to 80% of teachers who have gone through residency programs are still in the classroom five years later.