Aspects of Teach For America’s selection process are linked to student-achievement gains—a sign that it’s possible to recruit candidates who are more likely to have an edge in the classroom, a new study concludes.
The study, by a Harvard University graduate student, shows that the information used to select TFA candidates predicts a degree of student achievement during the candidate’s first year of teaching. TFA selects its recruits through a detailed selection process that uses a mix of scored assessments, including essays, a group activity, recommendations, and a sample teaching lesson.
The study analyzed student data from New York City and TFA data from its 2007 through 2009 cohorts, representing some 380 teachers in grades 3-8.
Using a value-added method, the study found that students who had TFA teachers who scored higher on its measures of achievement, leadership, and perseverance did better than their peers in math. In English, leadership and a “fit” with TFA’s goals appeared to be related to gains, but those findings were less precise.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2011 edition of Education Week as Teacher Recruitment