Using ESSER Funds to Support Teacher Residencies
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) have the opportunity to leverage Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) to develop teacher residency programs in their school sites. Teacher residencies, where aspiring teachers work for a full year co-teaching alongside an accomplished mentor teacher to become certified to teach, have a strong evidence base behind them (see Appendix 1 for a working definition of residencies). As this document details, residencies can diversify the teaching force, reduce teacher turnover, and improve instructional outcomes both in residency preparation classrooms and once residents graduate. The design of residencies, with two committed educators per classroom, also offers schools and districts ample opportunities to design effective instructional supports like tutoring that are required in ESSER.
Residencies are explicitly allowable under guidance by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE); the ED COVID-19 Handbook: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs Vol.2 names teacher residencies as one of the evidence-based approaches to stabilize and diversify the educator workforce. Prepared To Teach has created this document, informed by federal guidance and requirements, to support LEAs that may wish to include teacher residencies in their ESSER plans. Our primary goal is to provide a clear, succinct, yet comprehensive presentation of how residencies can be designed and included in district ESSER plans to support LEAs, which are already overwhelmed with their ongoing efforts to address impacts of the pandemic. Our secondary goal is to encourage districts that had not yet considered residencies as part of their ESSER planning to engage discussions with local preparation programs to explore the possibilities of using ESSER dollars to jump-start a residency program that can address longstanding inequities in education in addition to the specific learning opportunity gaps resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.