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The Smoke And The Fire From Evaluations Of Teach For America


Nice analysis. It's also worth checking out This post rightly points out that based on test scores, there is not a strong case for or against TFA. The post makes some mention of, but I think could be even stronger on the issue of TFA attrition. While not measuring attrition directly, the results make clear that TFA recruits overwhelming don't intend to stay in their class and prior research shows that such intentions are usually pretty accurate suggesting that TFA recruits will lead to more churn, cost, and lowered student achievement - at least for these studied schools. Other research also shows that actual TFA attrition is quite high. While attrition can also be high for other new teachers in high poverty schools, the fact that TFA's model is built on TFA seems misguided and should've been called out more in this post. The post rightly stresses the importance of addressing workplace issues to improve retention, but we also know that better and more extensive teacher training leads to better retention (likely both due to better preparation and the weed-out effect). While teachers from TFA and other fast-track teacher training could be an option as a short term stop-gap where no other better options currently exist, it seems dangerous if schools come to rely on them (as it seems many charters do). If there are not at least parallel efforts to both increase teacher supply and improve work conditions, then TFA and similar programs end up simply exacerbating the churn of ill-trained novices teachers. This hurts kids and undermines the teaching profession.

This is a really great breakdown - thank you for writing it. I looked through the article and couldn't find whether there were any discussions on the impact of TFA corps members on things outside the classroom - extracurricular, college application programs, etc. Any idea if that was examined - here or anywhere else.

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