Friday, February 20, 2009

Studies Show Teach for America Teachers Are...

....Ten thousand times more effective than other teachers.

The hype grows and grows and grows. The Detroit News editorial today says:

Bring 'Marine Corps' of teachers to Detroit schools

Guess who they are talking about?

A growing [like a fungus] body of [uncited] research shows Teach for America instructors' impact on student academic achievement is two to three times that of teachers who have three years of experience.

Wow! The factor of effectiveness keeps growing - like Pinocchio's nose.

Last week we read this:

What's the Best Way to Make Teachers?

A new federal study
on teacher quality has found that teachers who enter teaching through an alternative route have roughly the same impact on student achievement as teachers who come from regular teacher education programs.

As we all know from these growing studies, TFA first year teachers are at least thousands of times more effective than any other teachers that ever lived. That ought to raise Socrates from the dead. Of course all these "studies" are based on test results and no other factors. I knew every trick in the book on getting good results, tricks that I used sparingly because they cheated the kids of real teaching time. If I were still teaching, I could be the most effective teacher ever and qualify for all sorts of bonuses. Darn!

You can read both articles at Norms Notes:

Studies Show Teach for America Teachers Are...


  1. Haven't their corporate backers gone bankrupt yet?
    When they do, we will suddenly see a new study that shows that they weren't so effective. It's all about money.
    Absolutely disgusting to use children this way.
    For shame.

  2. And a teenage babysitter does a better job than the child's own mother.

    Whatsamatter, folks? Got a problem with that?

  3. Sounds like the old guard is getting scared of these new teachers shaking up the system. Detroit used to have TFA but it couldn't work out certification issues (MI being the strongest teachers union in the US). It's a shame, because the program helps a lot of kids and Detroit seriously needs some help.

  4. You should consider going to see a Teach For America teacher teach. Teach For America teachers are grateful for all in the education community who contribute to student achievement, and are certainly quick to recognize the impacts of both TFA and non-TFA teachers. They are deeply committed to their students, and while this means, yes, increasing achievement scores on tests, I think you will find both rigor and depth of learning in their classrooms. You also have but to look with more depth at their training and support materials and practices to realize that while they are a goal-oriented organization, their mission is to close the achievement gap between low and high income students, and this means creating lasting learning and opportunities for students, not teaching students how to best guess on a multiple choice test. When students have meaningful learning experiences, they also perform well on tests, not just when teachers do "test prep" in the way I believe you are implying. Perhaps you have met one Teach For America teacher with whom you were not impressed, but I would encourage you to reach out to more, or even speak to their students. They are a passionate and committed group of individuals, which is not to say that they are the only passionate and committed group of people in the education community, but again, I would encourage you to learn a little more about them, both as individuals and as an organization.

    Also, I’m not sure where your “uncited” research remark comes from. As a journalist, I would recommend you push a little further and look for the sources for yourself. One of the most recent studies (I believe the one that the articles may be referencing) comes from The Urban Institute’s CALDER Research Center, an independent research organization. A previous study has also been conducted by Mathematica, another independent organization. Here are the links to both articles, so if you’re interested, you may now directly cite at will:

  5. My main problem with TFA is the unbelievable public relations campaign which causes the entire organization to fall suspect. Comments like the above, which read more like a press release than an actual comment, cause the organization to appear sterile and a part of the edufactory community.
    TFA would do well to stop the PR blitz. It might give them more credibility in the educational community.

  6. TFA HAS OVER $100 MILLION STASHED AWAY. THERE SHOULD BE A STUDY ON THE SALARIES OF THE MANAGEMENT. Anytime in past history that the private sector starts trying to takeover the functions of the public sector, it becomes similar to a corporate state or fascism. Why aren't there programs like Plumbers for America, Lawyers for America, Doctors for America, Dentists for America. so they can get a non profit that has high salaries to pay lawyers to go into public service law and pay for their law degrees. It is a no brainer. Listen all organizations have a life and a death. There are has been no independent study of their actual successes, and failures. It would be better for Ivy league students that are interested in teaching to just apply for a teaching position on their own. In effect they are accepting Teach for America as a middleman that skims the money to achieve the same results.


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.