A Review of the Evidence Concerning Teach for America

Here is a freely downloadable study by Julian Vasquez Heilig and Su Jin Jez on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of Teach for America.

It has been said that what TFA gives as ‘evidence’ is “one unverifiable anecdote after another”.

Hopefully, this study is more than that. Here is a quote from the introduction:

Research on the impact of TFA teachers produces a mixed picture, with results affected by the experience level of the TFA teachers and the group of teachers with whom they are compared. Studies have found that, when the comparison group is other teachers in the same schools who are less likely to be certified or traditionally prepared, novice TFA teachers perform equivalently, and experienced TFA teachers perform comparably in raising reading scores and a bit better in raising math scores.

The question for most districts, however, is whether TFA teachers do as well as or  better than credentialed non-TFA teachers with whom school districts aim to staff  their schools. On this question, studies indicate that the students of novice TFA  teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of  credentialed beginning teachers.

Experience has a positive effect for both TFA and non-TFA teachers. Most studies find that the relatively few TFA teachers who stay long enough to become  fully credentialed (typically after two years) appear to do about as well as other  similarly experienced credentialed teachers in teaching reading; they do as well  as, and sometimes better than, that comparison group in teaching mathematics.

However, since more than 50% of TFA teachers leave after two years, and more  than 80% leave after three years, it is  impossible to know whether these more positive findings for experienced recruits result from additional training and experience or from attrition of TFA teachers who may be less effective

Published in: on August 12, 2013 at 10:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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