Middle school Teach For America teachers in Texas seem to be holding their own in the classroom, outperforming other novice teachers in math, according to, an independent evaluation firm. TFA alumni also did better than other veteran teachers in that subject, the study found.
The study draws on a sample of more than 1,500 TFA teachers and alumni, nearly 500 schools, and more than 11,000 students in each subject area of reading and math. For middle school students, defined in the study as grades 6-8, the researchers found that those taught by TFA novices did better than their peers, with a positive effect size of .19 for novice TFA teachers, or about half a year of learning.
The effects seemed to compound over time: TFA alumni had an effect size of .27, compared with non-TFA teachers with experience, in math. That amount, the study says, corresponds to nearly an additional year of learning for students of TFA alumni.
Reading gains for students of TFA alumni were positive but somewhat weaker, with an effect size of .11. (There was no effect for TFA novices.)
A version of this article appeared in the April 24, 2013 edition of Education Week as Teacher Quality