Pathways to Teaching: A Comparative Study on Urban Teacher Residency Programs in Boston and Chicago

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Research Question:

According to the founders what was the initial purpose of the Urban Teacher Residency programs: Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) in Chicago and the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) in Boston? (It is important to note that although these programs are under the same network umbrella they have two different agendas based on the populations they serve). Has this vision changed, why or why not? Lastly, how have teachers’ experiences in the program changed years after the launch of the programs?

I plan to focus on research published on these programs during the years 2000 and 2010.

Relevance: Over the course of this semester we have studied how several education reform movements were developed, implemented, and the changes that occurred over time. The reform movement that interested me the most involves teachers. The increasing focus on teacher accountability in more recent years has made me think about the varied pathways that teachers take to get certified and what that means to their readiness in the field. Teacher retainment rates have been very low. Teacher quality and teacher support should both be studied to ensure that the profession elevates to the level that is desired.Urban Teacher Residencies (UTR) are new programs that have been developed to provide support for teachers and addresses the issues of teacher quality. Teacher trainees commit to 4-5 years in the program. During the first year, the teacher trainees have the opportunity to get a Master’s level degree in their subject of choice while gaining experience in the classroom by shadowing a veteran teacher who serves as a mentor. After completing the first year, the teachers commit to teaching 3 or 4 years and are placed in their own classroom in high-needs school districts in Urban areas.They receive support throughout the remainder of the program to ensure that they provide quality instruction, but also so that remain in the field. This topic is relevant to Ed 300 because the program attempts to address major issues in the field. It important to examine the whether or not this program changed, how and why over time to see if progress is being made.

Research Strategy: To find sources for my web essay I started with Wikipedia to learn what an urban teacher residency is. I searched the sources that were used to write the entry, and I came across a source that conducted a study on both the AUSL and BTR programs that was published in 2008. After looking at Wikipedia, I decided to use the library’s search feature to see if there were any books that addressed urban teacher residencies. I searched for “urban teacher residencies” but the were little results so I decided to search for “alternative teacher certification”. I found a book in the library’s main collection. I was thrilled because this book offers good historical background in the emergence of teacher certification programs in the 1980s. Although this book does not address UTRs it provides great context for why there have been a number of different alternative certification programs throughout the years which will be useful in my analysis. Next, I searched Ed Week for articles related to urban teacher residency. I came across one article one the two UTRs- AUSL and BTR that were discussed in the article that I found via Wikipedia’s source list. After looking at this article, I decided to check out the websites for the each UTR. I also searched for journal articles in the Education full text journal. I came across an article that addressed the issue of teacher shortages which would be helpful to examine teacher retainment strategies and how this program adds up.

I feel that all of these sources will be very useful for my final paper.


Alternative Routes to Teaching: Mapping the New Landscape of Teacher Education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Education Press, 2008. Print.

Berry, Barnett, Diana Montgomery, Rachel Curtis, Mindy Hernandez, Judy Wurtzel, and John Snyder. “Creating and Sustaining Urban Teacher Residencies: A New Way to Recruit, Prepare and Retain Highly Effective Teachers in High-Needs Districts.” Center for Teaching Quality, the Aspen Institute, and Bank Street College. August 2008.

Honawar, Vaishali. “Boston, Chicago Teacher ‘Residencies’ Gaining Notice.” Education Week 17 Sept. 2008. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.

“Teacher Shortages.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press. Web. 6 Apr. 2013.

“Urban Teacher Residency.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.

Alternative Urban School Leadership. n.p. 2013.

Boston Teacher Residency. n.p.  2013.

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Victoria Smith Ellison

Victoria is a student at Trinity College in Hartford, CT majoring in Educational Studies.

One thought on “Pathways to Teaching: A Comparative Study on Urban Teacher Residency Programs in Boston and Chicago”

  1. This is a promising start on your urban teacher residency proposal, which you clearly recognize as an alternative to traditional certification that does not simply attempt to “fast-track” students into teachers with little preparation, as some other alternative routes have been criticized. Your question fulfills the Ed 300 guidelines by examining change over time in two possible ways: 1) reformers’ visions from 2000 to today; and 2) program goals and teachers’ lived experiences. Ideally, your essay will touch on both, but even if you have to scale back to one of these, it will meet the course standards.

    In addition to the sources you’ve already found, be sure to search the scholarly literature databases such as Google Scholar and Education Full Text. In the latter, I searched “teacher residency” and found several interesting sources:

    In particular, see background and lit review of this case study by Papay et al. 2012

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