Teach for America Teachers Pass the TestRecruits Fill Teacher Shortages and Increase Academic Gains: NCPA Report

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The success of Teach for America's training methods underscore the need for competition in the teacher recruitment process.

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The success of TFA’s competition-driven model highlights the need for free market principles in the teacher recruitment process.

Teach for America’s rigorous interview and selection process produces teachers who often outpace their traditionally trained counterparts, according to a new report by Senior Research Fellow Lloyd Bentsen IV and Research Associate Megan Simons of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The TFA recruitment program focuses on subject mastery and experience while reducing the focus on classroom management and child development that is often found in traditional teacher training routes.
While critics claim that TFA’s five-week training program fails to prepare new teachers for the stress of the classroom, students taught by TFA members often outpace their counterparts taught by traditionally-trained teachers:

  •     A 2009 Louisiana study found that students taught by TFA teachers performed significantly better in English language arts, reading, math and science than students taught by other new teachers.
  •     In North Carolina, a 2010 study found middle school math students of TFA members received the equivalent of an extra half-year of learning.
  •     Similarly, a 2013 Tennessee study found that TFA members were equally effective, if not more effective, as veteran teachers in most subject areas.

“The success of TFA’s competition-driven model highlights the need for free market principles in the teacher recruitment process,” report Bentsen and Simons. Teach for America displays the importance of selecting teachers “based on merit rather than formal credentials.”

By recruiting graduates who didn’t follow the traditional teacher route, Teach for America (TFA) guides driven individuals with a stronger mastery of their subject matter into schools stricken by poverty and teacher shortages. The continued success of these individuals underlines the need for a reevaluation of the teacher certification system.

Lessons from Teach For America: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ib147.

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. We bring together the best and brightest minds to tackle the country's most difficult public policy problems — in health care, taxes, retirement, education, energy and the environment. Visit our website today for more information.

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Catherine Daniell
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