Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Speaking of Teach for America

At tonight's Worcester Regional Research Bureau event, we heard from Teach for America and the Boston Teachers' Residency program, in addition to contributions from Assumption's education department and myself.
In the interests of full disclosure (and in case it becomes a local issue), here are the resources I used in my response:
The most comprehensive look on Teach for America to date is the Great Lakes Center review of the evidence that came out in 2010.It exhaustively goes through the research available. Among other conclusions: TFA corps members do about as well as other teachers with no training or background in education and that they improve at about the same rates with two exceptions: in some cases they are marginally better at teaching their students math, and in several cases, there is a worrying negative impact on reading that persists over time. TFA is no longer serving students in underserved districts. Teacher persistence rate in actual classroom teaching,, when the numbers are dug down. somewhere around 20 to 15 percent of teachers remaining after five years.There is lots more there; if you read nothing else, go through that one.
This is included in that review, but  Linda Darling-Hammond on how teacher preparation makes a huge difference is here. This has lead to an ongoing attack on Darling-Hammond by TFA, incidentally.
A run through of the research TFA offers in support and how it...doesn't support can be found here. Seriously, there's a reason why we need to require statistic classes.
I borrowed Gary Rubenstein's line about every TFA corps member owning their district a third year due to the lousy job they did the first year from here 
Jim Horn does his usual good job of pointing out that far too much of this is being predicated on test scores, anyway, here.
A good run through of the somewhat crazy assumptions behind the very idea of TFA, also pointing out the harm that this does (and from a Canadian perspective) is here.
In addition to personal experience and much of what I've read and learned elsewhere, my argument on mutual development of teacher excellence was informed by Anthony Cody's blog post from last week on school turnaround.
I have not read Learning on Other People's Kids, but the title says much. Press release on the book is here.
A whole new set of questions is raised by Barbara Miner in her article for Rethinking Schools.What is the policy drive behind TFA? Where does all the money go? And what is going on with their 501 (c) 4?

For those interested: the forum was taped by channel 13 and will, I am told, be up online as well.

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