A teacher-apprenticeship program launched in Seattle in 2013 aims to boost science and math teachers in four South King County districts.
A teacher-apprenticeship program launched in Seattle Public Schools three years ago will soon expand to four South King County school districts, focused on training middle- and high-school teachers who specialize in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Aspiring teachers will serve yearlong apprenticeships with experienced teachers in the Highline, Renton, Federal Way or Tukwila School districts while taking coursework leading to a master’s degree.
The Alliance for Education, a nonprofit representing local businesses and philanthropies, announced Wednesday that it has received a $90,000 grant from the Boeing Co. to help fund the expansion.
The program is based on the Seattle Teacher Residency, which has trained 80 teachers as of last September, including 31 novices who are serving their apprenticeships this school year — although it’s future funding is uncertain.
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The Boeing grant, plus funding from other donors including the Bezos Family Foundation, will help the Alliance design a South King County program on a smaller scale — probably 15 apprentices a year spread among the four districts.
The first apprentice teachers would begin in the fall of 2017.
The projected budget is about $49,000 per resident, bringing the total program cost to just under $750,000. It hasn’t yet been decided how much the districts will be asked to contribute.
“It’s basically a whole new program that we’ll be building,” said Marisa Bier, who is currently program director for the Seattle Teacher Residency and will lead the new effort.
“Obviously Seattle is a model for best practices,” Bier said.
The Seattle program — one of about 21 urban residencies in a national network that includes Boston, Denver and Minneapolis — is aimed at preparing educators in ways similar to young physicians-in-training.
The students end up with a master of teaching degree from the University of Washington, which counts as a teaching credential. In addition to receiving in-state tuition reimbursement, they also are paid a $16,500 stipend as interns. Residents in turn commit to teaching at least five years in Seattle Public Schools, though hiring is not automatic.
One of the goals of the program is to reduce teacher turnover, which was estimated in a 2007 study cited by the Alliance to cost Seattle Public Schools $10.6 million annually, and so far, retention has been 100 percent.
All of the residency’s first group of apprentice teachers, who completed their first full year of teaching at Seattle Public Schools in June 2015, returned for their second year in the same low-income schools in September.
The return rate for other first-year teachers at low-income schools in the district was 82 percent, according to the alliance.
Seattle’s urban residency was one of the first in the country to include the city’s teachers union as an equal partner, along with Seattle Public Schools, the University of Washington and the Alliance for Education.
Bier said the alliance hopes to reach similar agreements with teachers unions in the four South King County districts.
In Seattle, the program has funding for next year’s class, but there’s uncertainty after that.
Seattle Public Schools contributed about $50,000 of the $1.15 million cost for the first year of its residency program, which had 25 students, and increased its share to $230,000 this year. The Alliance paid the rest of the $1.6 million total cost.
Bier said that the goal had been for Seattle Public Schools to eventually pay about a third of the total expenses.
But Seattle has only committed $50,000 (plus a staff member assigned to the program, which costs $75,000), for next year’s class, according to the district.
That class will have roughly the same number of students as this year’s, and the district has made no financial commitment beyond that.