NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teach For America: Boosting Student Achievement

September 17, 2013

A rigorous new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education finds that Teach for America recruits lead students in impoverished middle and high schools to higher achievement in math than teachers who have come through traditional training programs, says Politico.

  • Teach for America (TFA) aggressively recruits graduates from top colleges across the United States, trains them for five weeks over the summer, then places them in urban and rural districts that have agreed to pay a premium for the rookie teachers.
  • The recruits, who make a two-year commitment to their district, teach in both charter schools and in traditional public schools, at all grade levels and in most subject areas.
  • They receive ongoing training and professional development from TFA during their stint.

The study found that TFA teachers outperformed several other categories of teachers who worked alongside them in the same low-performing, urban school districts.

  • The TFA teachers got better scores from their kids than a comparison group of teachers who went through traditional university training programs.
  • They also outperformed other relatively inexperienced teachers of any background.
  • And they did better than other teachers who, like most of the TFA recruits, were still in the process of obtaining full state certification while on the job.

Source: Stephanie Simon, "New Study Finds Teach for America Recruits Boost Student Achievement in Math," Politico, September 10, 2013. "New Study Examines Effectiveness of Secondary School Math Teachers from Teach for America and the Teaching Fellows Programs," Mathematica Policy Research, September 10, 2013.


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