Clemson University Teacher Residency Program

Clemson University Teacher Residency Program prepares individuals enrolled in Clemson’s bachelor’s-to-master’s teaching program with strong content knowledge, a full year of student teaching, and mentorship by high-quality, experienced educators with the aims of increasing teacher retention and preparedness as well as PK-12 student achievement.

Teacher residents (TRs) in Clemson University’s teacher residency program and student teachers in the traditional undergraduate program spend between 320 and 630 hours in practicum experiences before student teaching. For the student teaching experience, traditional student teachers spend one semester student teaching (an additional 540 hours) while TRs spend two semesters student teaching (an additional 1080 hours). Consequently, TRs spend more time engaged in full-time student teaching than their counterparts in the traditional program.

During their year-long clinical placements, TRs work alongside a trained mentor teacher (MTs) in our seven partner school districts. MTs are selected by the school districts and required to take graduate coursework in mentoring, instructional coaching, and co-teaching in order to work with the residents. An MT is intentionally matched with a TR with personality and mentoring style considered. MTs and TRs begin collaborating eight months prior to the year-long placement to ensure a strong, working relationship is formed and to begin co-planning for the upcoming school year. Instead of the traditional apprenticeship model of student teaching where the student teacher observes the mentor teacher and then takes over the classroom, the TRs and MTs co-plan, co-instruct, and co-assess contributing equally to the classroom instruction.

Counties Served

Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, and Pickens counties

Annual Cost


Partner Organizations

Anderson School District OneAnderson School District ThreeAnderson School District FourAnderson School District FiveGreenville County SchoolsSchool District of Oconee CountySchool District of Pickens County

Funding Sources


  • Teacher residency program fees
  • The Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education
  • College of Education
  • Partner school districts


Classes for teacher residents and training for mentor teachers take place in partner school district facilities at no cost to the university for the space used.


Recruitment and retention of teachers has been a persistent challenge in SC, a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. SC had 1063 vacant teaching positions in October 2021, an increase of 52% in vacancies compared to the year before and the largest number of teacher vacancies in over 20 years (CERRA, 2021). Studies of residency programs nationally show high recruitment and retention rates of their graduates, even after several years in the profession with significant differences in retention rates between residency graduates and their non-residency peers (Guha et al., 2016). Following national residency model trends, Clemson University’s teacher residency program has helped to attract educators into the classroom and, specifically, SC public classrooms: 98% of program completers have become employed as classroom teachers upon graduation, and 83% of those employed took teaching positions in SC public schools. Retention rates for employed TR completers are also high. For the first cohort of TRs, 100% of those who became employed upon graduation continued to teach in Year 2, and 96% remained teaching in Year 3. We are currently collecting employment data for Year 4. Similar retention results are becoming evident for subsequent cohorts as well as we track graduates from Cohorts 2, 3, and 4.Teacher residents and student teachers at Clemson University are scored by trained university supervisors on their teaching effectiveness using the South Carolina Teaching Standards 4.0 Rubric for their final teaching evaluations at the completion of their respective programs. The SCTS rubric consists of indicators under the following domains: Planning, Instruction, Environment, and Professionalism. Teacher residents’ and traditional student teachers’ average scores for each domain and their overall score have been compared for the past four years (since the residency program began). Consistently, teacher residents score statistically higher in every domain and for their overall SCTS score than traditional student teachers. This is strong evidence that teacher residents are more prepared to begin their first year of teaching than their counterparts. There is growing evidence that teacher education matters for teacher effectiveness, since a child’s teacher can make a bigger difference to their educational success than most other school variables (Darling-Hammond, 2006).Self-efficacy is defined as one’s sense/judgment of their capabilities to bring about desired student outcomes in teaching (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001), and changes in self-efficacy occur during teacher preparation and continue throughout a teachers’ career. We investigated whether teacher residents’ teaching self-efficacy at the end of one semester of student teaching would significantly improve with the additional semester of student teaching. Cohort 3 teacher residents were given a teaching self-efficacy survey at the end of the first semester of their yearlong placement and again at the end of the second semester. Self-efficacy scores were compared to determine if there was a significant increase in their teaching self-efficacy with an additional semester of student teaching. There were significant differences in the mean teaching self-efficacy scores between December 2020 and April 2021. These results suggest that the extended length of the clinical placement in the teacher residency program does positively improve the teacher resident’s teaching self-efficacy. Research indicates that higher teaching self-efficacy scores is associated with positive student outcomes and actual classroom practice (Stevens et al., 2013).Graduates of the residency program are surveyed at the completion of their first year of teaching. First year teachers prepared through the teacher residency program rated the preparation they received from their participation in the program moderately above to far above average in preparing them for their first year of teaching. Focus groups with principals who have employed teacher residency graduates for their first year of teaching indicate that graduates from Clemson University’s teacher residency program do not seem like first-year teachers based on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they demonstrate right from the start. They also indicate they expect teacher residency graduates will have a positive impact on PK-12 student learning outcomes.Most resident programs nationally are in the early stages of conducting research on program impact on PK-12 student achievement data; however, early results indicate that teacher residency graduates’ students’ achievement gains are similar to other novice teachers in the first year of teaching but are significantly greater than those of other teachers by their fourth and fifth years of teaching (Guha et al., 2016). Clemson University is in the early stages of comparing our residency graduates’ students’ achievement gains with other teachers in several of our partner school districts, and results are forthcoming.177 experienced classroom teachers have completed the graduate coursework to become mentor teachers and work with teacher residents. Results from surveys administered to mentor teachers indicate that they find co-teaching with a teacher resident has not only helped improve learning for students in their classroom but has also helped them improve professionally. MTs indicate feeling more like a teacher leader and improving pedagogical knowledge after participating in the teacher residency program.


Clemson University’s teacher residency program has built effective, strong, collaborative partnerships with their seven district partners, who have a shared vision and commitment to the program. By meeting regularly with representatives from the partner districts to collaborate on all aspects of the program to ensure that mutual goals are being met, highly effective MTs are being recruited, and there are a variety of placements available in partner schools to place TRs. Through a shared vision with the district partners, the teacher residency program makes continuous improvements in response to districts’ needs. Because of this shared partnership, school districts have continued to commit financial contributions to the training of mentor teachers to participate in the teacher residency program, and they are committed to providing high-quality placements for the teacher residents. Additionally, as trained mentor teachers have increased their instructional leadership capacity, school districts have been able to have trained mentor teachers take on other roles like supporting induction teachers and providing instructional coaching. The partner districts have also been able to hire many of the teacher residents in their districts as classroom teachers once they complete the program. With so many benefits to the partner school districts, they value the program and are committed to ensuring its sustainability.Additionally, enrollment has increased 165% since the program began, and enrollment numbers have remained high. Over ⅓ of the undergraduate students enroll in the teacher residency program. The consistent enrollment of students in the program also ensures sustainability. Furthermore, the program has begun to offer Eugene T. Moore Teacher Residency Fellowships, established to increase the number of underrepresented and underserved students who are enrolled in the teacher residency program. These fellowships provide living stipends to help financially support teacher residents during their yearlong clinical placements and are also used to provide scholarships for mentor teachers to take additional graduate courses to obtain a Teacher Leader Endorsement on their SC Teaching Certificate.Building on previous experience implementing a highly-successful, sustainable teacher residency program, the program has begun to build partnerships with other school districts to extend the reach into other regions of SC to serve more students having the highest needs related to poverty, teacher turnover, and student achievement.

Grades Served

  • Elementary (3-5)
  • Middle School (6-8)
  • High School (9-12)

Related Subjects

  • English Language Arts
  • STEM
  • Social Studies
  • World Languages

Contact Information

Laura Eicher,