Beleaguered schools getting help for teachers

Montezuma-Cortez picked for residency program

Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 schools will get a little help next year from the Colorado Boettcher Teacher Residency program.

Similar to a medical residency, the program places teachers in the state’s “most challenged” school districts.

For the fourth straight year, Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 schools failed to meet state performance expectations. In the Colorado Department of Education’s 2012-2013 accreditation report, the district received a total score of 43.7 percent. In 2010, the district received a score of 50 percent, and the scores have steadily declined.

The low scores require school officials to adopt a priority improvement plan.

The Colorado Boettcher Teacher Residency (CBTR) recruits and trains individuals to become exceptional teachers by providing an intensive and supportive teacher training program. Funded through the Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC), the effort combines master’s level coursework with hands-on learning in a K-12 classroom.

“PEBC anticipates two resident teachers joining the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 school district over the next year,” said spokeswoman Stacey Sepp.

A nonprofit that works with teachers, schools and districts to cultivate highly effective K-12 educators to elevate student achievement, PEBC was recently awarded nearly $6.5 million in grants to support the CBTR initiative.

“These grants represent a long-term commitment by the state, and the Boettcher Foundation in creating effective educators to serve in our most challenged communities,” said PEBC president Rosann Ward. “This dedication to the field and our students is an example of how a state can be proactive in developing a well-prepared pipeline of talent to serve districts across the state and into the future.”

The yearlong apprenticeship trains teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students in districts that have historically struggled to recruit and retain new teachers. In exchange, the resident teachers receive a master’s degree in education and a Colorado teacher’s license.

“For nearly 10 years, the Colorado Boettcher Teacher Residency has developed a network of well-trained, effective educators who have made a tremendous impact in our Colorado schools,” said Tim Schultz, president and executive director of the Boettcher Foundation. “We are pleased to continue our support of the Residency, so it can continue its legacy of success and prepare and retain teachers in the Colorado communities that need them most.”

Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 superintendent Alex Carter welcomes the new partnership. He said that a great teacher is one of the most important school-based factors to close the achievement gap.

“Research shows us that the number one school controlled factor that improves student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom,” Carter said. “The partnership we have fostered with Fort Lewis College and the Boettcher Foundation to recruit high quality teachers, especially in the areas of math and science, is yet another way we are focused on setting our students up to experience success in our schools while preparing them for post-secondary learning and their careers.”

Since 2004, CBTR has prepared and retained a network of 150 effective teachers who have been placed in high-needs school districts throughout Colorado. The program boasts a five-year teacher retention rate that exceeds 90 percent.