Why RTR Matters
It’s not an equal playing field until your players get onto it.
In the 21st century, America’s urban school districts face unique challenges, from the legacies of the desegregation struggle, to the problems of poverty, to the growing diversity of student populations representing many cultures, languages and needs.
Despite overwhelming research that teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in student achievement, and that the impact of teachers on student learning have been found to be cumulative and long-lasting by every measure of teacher quality; our poor and minority students are typically taught by the least prepared, least experience, and least effective teachers.
Do More With Less
Adding to the complexity of responding to the considerable need in urban education is often the double bind created when funding is not adequate to meet the needs of these significant challenges. Although budget cuts have been a common plight for many districts, urban systems were often already at a funding disadvantage in comparison to their more affluent school district neighbors.
Plagued by high teacher attrition rates, urban schools are often scrambling to fill classrooms — especially before schools open each fall. As a result, students in urban districts are frequently short-changed by classrooms staffed with poorly prepared teachers — from teachers teaching out of their field, or teachers with zero experience, or teachers who are not licensed to teach. Studies consistently demonstrate that ineffective teachers have a significant and negative impact on students’ academic gains that is difficult to reverse.
Virginia has a 2.8 out of 5 teacher equity rating, using indicators of the ratio of uncertified and inexperienced teachers in high versus low minority schools and in the number of teachers of color.
The Teacher Shortages in Virginia are Dire.
In 2016-2017 there were 1,080 unfilled positions in the Commonwealth when the school year began and 935 at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. Shortages are found in every content area and grade level (Virginia Department of Education, 2016). The teacher shortage is most acute in high-needs schools and school divisions, as is teacher turnover. This often leads to poor student academic performance and the denial of state accreditation for these schools.
RTR addresses all three issues—recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality teachers—and provides one solution to the challenges that our state and school divisions face in ensuring that every student receives a highly-effective teacher.
Urban Students Deserve Better
“I was hired to teach math in inner city Miami, even though I was not qualified to teach the subject. This would never have happened in a suburban school district. While I knew how to do fifth grade math, I didn’t understand the discipline of mathematics well enough to diagnosis problems that my students were having. If they didn’t understand how to do the math problem the first way I explained it, my only “alternative” strategies were to speak louder or more slowly. I had the heart for teaching urban students, but not the content expertise. Urban students deserve better.”
Dr. Therese A. Dozier, Director, RTR
Students in high-need and hard to staff schools deserve the same chance as everybody else
We know that the quality of the teacher is the single most important in-school factor determining how well a student performs. Our program is specifically designed to cultivate a pipeline of teachers who have extensive content knowledge, and the heart and the vision to create more equitable outcomes for all students. Through a nationally ranked graduate-level teacher education program and an intensive, medical-school-style residency, RTR integrates theory and practice so that our residents are equal to the task ahead. Our aim is to prepare outstanding teachers – because all students deserve the very best.
Why it matters
Any attempt to end educational inequities will not succeed unless there is a change in how we prepare and retain exceptional talent to meet the unique challenges of high-needs and hard to staff schools. Our goal is to bring highly effective teachers to the classroom, who are committed to not only getting their students onto the playing field, but who are also committed to ensuring that all students have the knowledge and skills to hit the ball out of the park. We are a movement to teach for change so that all students can be lifted up from inside our classrooms.
At Risk Students. They demand the best. They challenge the best. They require the best. This is why we Teach for Change.