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Commentary: Boettcher Teachers Program Gets Better Results

Boettcher

By Andra Brill, SPECIAL TO EDUCATION NEWS COLORADO
Last week the Boettcher Teachers Program, Denver’s first teacher residency program, released results of its annual evaluation. After six years of recruiting new teachers to make a difference where it matters most, the data shows that students in classrooms with Boettcher Teachers are getting better test results.
Students in classrooms with Boettcher Teachers are scoring better on CSAP and district Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests than their non-Boettcher prepared peers, according the evaluation, conducted by The Evaluation Center and the University of Colorado Denver School of Education and Human Development.
Additionally, five schools with a high number of Boettcher mentors and teachers are showing significant growth on their CSAP scores.
Established in 2003, the Boettcher Teachers Program is a dual licensure and master’s degree fellowship designed to prepare a highly-skilled workforce of professional educators to make a difference in the individual lives of low-income students.
Boettcher Teaching Fellows are specially trained and endorsed to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students. They earn a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver.
In the first year of this residency program, fellows spend the majority of their time teaching alongside a veteran teacher while completing coursework towards a Colorado teaching license.
The evaluation data suggests that Boettcher teachers are making a difference. While the sample size for the CSAP data is still relatively small, Boettcher teachers were found to have higher growth in reading in four out of five cases. MAPS data from the 2008-09 school year, on the other hand, looked at 4,744 students across the district. The chart below shows statistically significant differences between non-Boettcher teachers, Boettcher teachers, and more veteran Boettcher mentors.
Average percentile growth on MAP tests

This year’s evaluation – the fourth conducted on the Boettcher residency program — also looked back over the last five years to identify the factors that have allowed the program to grow and evolve. The evaluation found that the Boettcher Teacher’s Program “meets the need of schools [serving students living in poverty] to have teachers who are more specifically prepared for their population of students.”
Boettcher teachers were also noted for their tenacity and “can do” attitude. The remarkable relationship among the program partners was also cited as a strength of the program.
The last finding, that the Boettcher program embodies a responsive, flexible organizational culture is perhaps the most interesting. One informant summarized this culture: “The collaborative nature of the relationship, the constant monitoring of what’s going on, what’s working, what’s not working, all of those are just tremendous assets for the program.”
“We are thrilled with the impact the program is having,” said Co-Director, Karen Lowenstein, Ph.D. Evidence suggests that Boettcher-prepared teachers are learning the skills and attitudes necessary to thrive in public schools, as shown by the high retention rate of 95% and the fact that so many are moving into leadership positions within their districts. (That’s almost double the national retention rates for new teachers in high-needs schools.)
Even State Education Commissioner Dwight Jones is talking about how impressive the Boettcher Teachers Program is.
The program is a collaboration among the Boettcher Foundation, Public Education & Business Coalition, University of Denver Morgridge College of Education, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, and Mapleton Public Schools.
Andra Brill is Co-Director of the Boettcher Teachers Program

Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters

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