With 74 graduates teaching in 31 schools, the Seattle Teacher Residency is helping improve teacher retention and diversity rates in Seattle Public Schools.

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As it recruits a fifth class of educators-in-training, an innovative but costly teacher-apprenticeship program in Seattle seems to be fulfilling its mission to help develop a more diverse teacher workforce in the city’s public schools.

A total of 74 teachers have graduated from the Seattle Teacher Residency since its debut four years ago. The graduates now work in 31 schools, with another 23 candidates in the pipeline.

Forty-one percent of them are teachers of color — double the 20 percent diversity rate for all teachers who work in Seattle Public Schools, and four times the state rate of 10 percent.

And nearly all the residency graduates who start teaching in a high-needs school returned there for a second and third year. That’s much higher than the 71 percent retention rate for other Seattle teachers hired in the same year, according to the Alliance for Education, a nonprofit that oversees the Seattle residency.

Education Lab is a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. It is produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and City University of Seattle. Learn more about Ed Lab 

“The residency was founded to accelerate student achievement by creating a diverse pipeline of teachers committed to teaching five years in Seattle’s highest-need classrooms,” said program director Marisa Bier.

Seattle’s program is one of 23 in a national network overseen by the National Center for Teacher Residencies.

In many teacher preparation programs, candidates spend a lot of time at a college of education or in fast-track courses learning about classroom management, lesson planning and education trends. The programs are often criticized for not providing enough classroom experience.

The Seattle residency, in contrast, prepares aspiring teachers primarily through a yearlong apprenticeship with an experienced teacher while the novices take coursework at the University of Washington.

Residents, who receive a monthly stipend, commit to teaching at least five years at a high-poverty school or in a special-education classroom in the Seattle district. They also can apply for additional tuition reimbursement.

All that is costly: Seattle’s program budgets about $50,000 per resident.

In data released Wednesday, the Alliance also says student achievement is rising in schools where several residency graduates work. Schools with three or more graduates, for example, saw student test scores grow by 12.5 percentage points in math and 8.8 points in science.

And while Lisa Chick, president and CEO of the Alliance, acknowledged a number of factors could be causing those gains, they are much higher than the 4-point growth in math scores and 1.6-point growth in science at schools with no residency graduates.

Results in English grew at similar rates in both sets of schools, the Alliance reported.

The Alliance received a grant to expand the residency program into South King County, but that effort is now on hold.

And it needs to raise money for its Seattle program, too. In 2015, the Seattle school district cut its annual financial contribution for the teacher residency from $230,000 to up to $50,000.

This story, originally published April 5, has been corrected.  Based on incorrect information from the Alliance, the story said the Alliance was planning to expand the residency program into South King County.   That effort is on hold.  The story also was clarified to make it clear that the district’s financial contribution to the residency program decreased as part of a bigger restructuring of the Alliance’s relationship with the district.