In yesterday’s post on an updated study of Teach For America teachers in North Carolina high schools, I mused about whether the same pattern of findings would hold true in elementary schools. In other words, would Teach For America teachers be more effective than the teachers that students would otherwise have?
Apparently so, according to reader Paul Decker. Decker, who also happens to be the president and chief executive officer of Mathematica Policy Research Inc., reminded me of a study he co-authored in 2004 that involved more than 2,000 students in elementary schools in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta.
Math scores for the average student of a TFA recruit improved over the course of the school year, moving that student from the 14th to the 17th percentile on a nationally normed test. Students of non-TFA teachers, in comparison, stalled at the 15th percentile. You can read a detailed summary of the study here.
One point to keep in mind with all of this research, though, is that TFA teachers typically end up in hard-to-staff schools. That means there’s no guarantee that these smart, well-meaning college grads would automatically do a better job than the existing staff in any school they are placed.
P.S.—I am not shilling for TFA.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.