The Institute of Education Sciences’ What Works Clearinghouse recently released a systematic review of all the research on Teach for America (TFA).
What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) is a place where educators can go to determine if programs are scientifically proven to work. It’s a helpful tool for all those educators who wondered, “Does this actually work?”
From their website:
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education. Our goal is to provide educators with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions. We focus on the results from high-quality research to answer the question “What works in education?”
WWC doesn’t just review any type of research reports that are thrown out there. Studies have meet certain scientific requirements to be added into a systematic review of the subject at hand.
This current review looked at TFA’s effectiveness in math, science, English, and social studies achievement.
Let’s start out with an overall look at the effectiveness of TFA teachers. Afterwards, I will break down the individual subjects achievement data. As you can see below, TFA teachers are better than traditionally trained teachers in math achievement, potentially better in science achievement, and are the same in social studies achievement and English achievement. The systematic review did not find a pattern of TFA teachers being worse than traditionally trained teachers in any subject.
According to this systematic review, TFA teachers see the great achievement with math. The studies involved look at over 65,000 students and found TFA teachers had a statistically significant positive effect on math achievement. The review found a medium to large amount of evidence for this claim. Science Achievement
For science achievement data, the one study included over 36,000 students and found a positive and statistically significant effect of TFA teachers on science achievement.
The one study included in this section found no statistical significant effect on TFA teachers in regards to social studies achievement. This means that TFA teachers were the same as traditionally trained teachers when it came to their student’s social studies achievement.
For English achievement, the systematic review looked at 5 studies that included over 53,000 students. They found that there was no statistically significant effect of TFA teachers compared to traditionally trained teachers. TFA teachers and traditionally trained teachers were the same when it came to English achievement.
TFA teachers do better in math and science achievement, but do no worse in English and social studies achievement compared to traditionally trained teachers. The takeaway is that TFA teachers, with limited amount of training, are doing the same or as better as teachers who spend years in training.
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