The Myth of the Super TFA Teacher is Crushed by TFA’s Own Research

A study conducted in Texas with the cooperation of Teach for America claims to pretend that TFA teachers are more effective than their peers. We’ve all heard this claim before, including from frauds like Michelle Rhee, who made up fables about her mythical and fantastic successes during her three years as a TFA newbie in Baltimore.

However, the facts and tables in the report itself shows exactly the opposite, at least for TFA members who are in their first two years (and for many of them, their only two years) in the classroom.

For example, look at the following tables, which I cut and pasted from the report:

how TFA teachers compare with their peers

Notice what the data is saying in the first four bar graphs above. Dark blue means that the students of that group of TFA teachers were significantly more likely to pass the STAAR test than the students of other, matched, non-TFA teachers. Black means that the students of that group of TFA teachers were NOT more likely to pass, and that this is statistically significant.

Also notice that they do NOT ask the question of whether students of TFA teachers do significantly worse on that test than do students of other teachers. We can only guess.

(1) During the first year that a TFA ‘corps member’ is in the classroom, in 44% to 46% of the cases, their students do NOT do significantly better than their peers on a state-wide standardized test than do the students of non-TFA teachers. We don’t know for a fact that the students actually did WORSE than those taught by non-TFA teachers, but it is certainly a strong possibility. Only in 1/6 to 1/4 of the cases (16% to 26%), do the students of the TFA first-year teachers do significantly better than the students of other, comparable teachers.

(2) Apparently students of second-year TFA teachers in Texas do even worse than those of first-year TFA teachers, especially in reading, because the dark blue sections of the third and fourth bar graphs are significantly smaller than those for the first and second bar graphs, and the black section of bar graph 3 (reading) is much larger than it was in bar graph 1.

Bar graphs 3 and 4 include both first year and second year TFA teachers; since the combined figures for both years 1 and 2 are much worse than for just year 1, that must mean that TFA teachers get worse at preparing their students for the STAAR test during their second year.

(3) However, the relatively few TFA corps members who successfully exit TFA and go on to remain as classroom teachers apparently do much better than the peers that were selected by this study (that’s bar graphs 5 and 6; note the dark blue sections are much larger).

However, let me quote the conclusions written by the authors of this report concerning this graph:

“Students of TFA alumni were significantly more likely to pass STAAR Reading and Math in 77% and 82% of all Reading & Math analyses, respectively. TFA corps members are more effective in Math than Reading. ”

I will let you, the reader, make your own decision as to whether preparing students to pass tests like the PARCC or the STAAR is a worthy goal. But it’s almost all the data that we have.

Thanks to Gary Rubinstein for his blog post, pointing me towards this study.

Training to be a Professional? We don’t need no stinkin’ training!

First we had Teach for America, which sends 20-somethings with no training to speak of out to the most impoverished communities as teachers.

(Right. We all know that it’s much better that the poor and brown kids who really do need trained and experienced education professionals, are instead saddled with an ever-churning roster of completely inexperienced newbies who are blindly trying to follow a script, at least until they crash, burn, and quit.

(Look on the bright side: each TFA noobie placed in a school district earns TFA many thousands of dollars!)

If you like TFA, then you will loveProfessionals for America“, where they extend this idea to the medical profession, airline pilots, and much more!

What could possibly go wrong?

A Warning to ‘Teach for America’ Noobies from Mercedes Schneider concerning special-needs students

Mercedes Schneider gives a serious warning to members of ‘Teach for America’ concerning grandiose plans by its current leadership to have untrained TFAers be in charge of diagnosing and treating special-needs students. Here is a small part of it and a link to her article:

 

“Do not place yourself in a position to damage the vulnerable via a naivete exacerbated by an inflated ego.

“You could harm students. You could be harmed by students. You could be held legally responsible.

“Do not mistake enthusiasm for invincibility.

“If you really want to assist special needs populations, make the appropriate investment. Return to school and treat your decision as an honest, long-term career move.”

http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/an-open-letter-to-tfaers-tempted-to-diagnose-adhd-among-other-issues/

 

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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A critique of Teach For America by a former TFAer

An excerpt of an article on TFA by James Boutin:

From my perspective, TFA is, at best, analogous to putting a band-aid on a brain hemorrhage. At worst, it is a racist, staggeringly arrogant organization that profits (both in money and fame) off the poor.

How was that for nicely communicating my feelings? Pretty crappy, huh?

It’s not the TFA corps members I have problems with (although a good many of them personify the organization’s arrogance and lack of respect for the teaching profession); it’s the notion and push behind the endeavor itself. I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who join TFA out of a sincere desire to effect change and teach their hearts out. I just caution them to be prepared for a potential rude awakening. (See Gary Rubinstein’s beautiful post on why he joined TFA, and why it’s no longer needed.)

To the new TFA corps members for the coming year, I wish you all the best, but try to keep an open mind during the propaganda process, I mean, “Institute.”‘

Published in: on February 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How Teach for America Could Have Been Useful – But Wasn’t

Imagine if Wendy Kopp had taken a different tack.

Instead of throwing untrained elite, newby college grads into an inner-city classroom with virtually no connection between what they studied at their university and what they were teaching, with the promise that once they had those 2 years under their belt, they could then get all their college loans paid off and go on to make big bucks coasting on their resume — while having in fact been AT BEST only vaguely successful (in other words, “Teach For Awhile”)

Instead of that:

Recruiting bright young college sophomores and juniors to seriously consider teaching AS A CAREER, and to take courses on educational theory and practice along with whatever subject they are already interested in;

Making sure that they had a full year, post-graduation, of student teaching and observation, as well as intensive grad-school courses that further promote their understanding of teaching as a craft and of how to teach their own chosen subject matter;

Getting them to commit to at least five years in the Title I classroom, not two, since we know that it takes at least three years to begin to become an effective classroom teacher, and it’s bad to have constant teacher turnover, and it’s wasteful to do all this training and have it all be thrown away;

Encouraging these college grads NOT to become derivative traders, mortgage bankers, corporate lawyers, or educational shucksters, but instead, real, practicing teachers and leaders in that profession;

Then we could have said that Wendy Koop had done something positive for the youth of America.

Instead, we have had a colossal con job foisted on our public educational system.

The Cluelessness of Rhee, Kopp and Mathews

Here is an article by Jay Mathews in which he shows how much he tends to worship at the feet of Michelle Rhee (ex-chancellor of DCPS) and Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America, who has never taught K-12 at all). He points out many facts which show how their approach is fundamentally bankrupt, but keeps promoting them anyway. For example, most of the supposedly “wonderful” principals appointed by Rhee were anything but — many quit, many were fired, and many of the rest need to be relieved of their duties ASAP.

It’s telling that even Wendy Kopp’s own son sees that TFA is a waste of time and resources:

<<She quotes her son Benjamin, then 8, after he had interviewed her about her life’s work for a school project. His final question was: “If this is such a big problem — you know, kids not having the chance to have a good education — why would you ask people with no experience right out of college to solve it?”>>

I strongly recommend reading the comments by various readers at the end of the article.

If you are unable to read them on your own, let me know.

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