An Urban Schools-University Partnership that Prepares and Retains Quality Teachers for “High Need” Schools

Jan. 20, 2009

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 44, Issue 1. January 2009 , pages 1 - 20

This paper describes a full-time teaching internship program, where, in lieu of student teaching, interns serve as classroom teachers in urban area schools. Through a partnership between a university and participating school districts, all interns received intensive mentoring and induction during their first year.

The Internship Program

Each individual selected to participate as an intern functions as the sole teacher in the classroom from the very first day of the school year. As such, the interns are responsible for all regular teaching responsibilities associated with an elementary- or middle-school classroom. In addition to teaching, they are personally, professionally, and ethically responsible for completing other responsibilities such as: attending required professional development activities; participating in grade level, content area, and/or other teaching team meetings; and taking part in all orientation and induction programs that districts provide for all first-year teachers. The interns are also evaluated by district administrators using the exact same protocol used with all other first-year teachers.

Program Participants

Selection and Description of Interns
The data reported in this study was based on the responses and teaching performances of 38 interns (34 females and 4 males). In addition, 35 of the interns were Caucasian, 2 were African American, and 1 was of Hispanic origin. The interns were traditional teacher preparation students, approximately 22 years of age, who had completed their teacher education coursework (including extensive clinical experiences) and their baccalaureate degrees. They also passed the state certification tests, thus making them eligible for a 1-year probationary teaching certificate.

Selection, Description, and Training of Mentors
The eight mentors who participated in this study had achieved between 6 years and 30 years of teaching experience. They were mainly responsible for coaching, supporting, and challenging their interns in order to facilitate the interns' evolution to becoming successful beginning teachers. The mentors regularly observed interns and provided timely, formative, feedback that informed the interns' professional development in areas such as instruction, classroom management and working and communicating with parents.

Selection and Description of Participating School Districts
There were six school districts involved in this study. Five of the districts were situated within two of the largest urban metropolitan areas of the United States, while one of the districts could be described as a smaller ethnically diverse urban school district. The schools, even within the various districts, were somewhat varied in terms of student demographics and the degree of economic disadvantage.

University Responsibilities
The internship program director and associated faculty and staff provide coordination of the program among districts, mentors, interns, and other university agencies associated with recommending certification.

The program results indicated, among other things, that there was a 100% retention rate of interns in the teaching profession. Furthermore, there were significant growth in teaching interns' confidence, readiness, and self-efficacy regarding their abilities to teach successfully. In addition, school administrators consistently rated interns as proficient teachers using a state-approved evaluation instrument. Implications for continuing the internship program are presented.

Updated: Mar. 11, 2009