Teach for America Teachers Outperform Colleagues, Study Reveals
Students of Teach for America (TFA) teachers outscored their schoolmates on math achievement tests and matched their average performance in reading, according to a national study of the program recently released by Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
The study compared the performance of corps members from Teach for America — which since 1990 has recruited more than 10,000 recent liberal arts college graduates to teach in urban and rural low-income communities — to that of other novice and veteran teachers in the same elementary schools.
The study reveals that after a single school year, students of TFA teachers outscored a randomized control group of non-TFA teachers’ students by three percentile points on the math portion of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills — the equivalent of one extra month of math achievement. On the reading portion of the test, the average gain in test scores of TFA students was nearly identical to that of control students.
“TFA teachers not only had more success than other novice teachers but they had more success than teachers with an average of six years of experience in the classroom,” says Paul Decker, vice president and director of human services research at Mathematica and principal investigator for the research effort.
The study is based on a large national sample, including nearly 2,000 elementary school students in 100 classrooms in 17 schools in six geographical high-poverty areas — Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles (Compton), New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. In each school, students in the study were randomly assigned to either TFA teachers or control group teachers in the same grades. Student performance was measured at the beginning and end of the 2002-2003 academic year.
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