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Teach for America Getting Rave Reviews
posted by: Alix | December 06, 2010, 04:27 PM   

Teach for America, a non-profit organization that recruits recent college graduates and professionals to teach in high-need schools for two years, has been in the headlines recently as the school reform debate rages on. Both sides agree that finding highly effective teachers is the most critical component in improving student performance, Teach for America is seen as part of the solution.

The program is seen as highly prestigious and effective. These teachers, called corps members, commit to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions across the country, going above and beyond traditional expectations to help their students to achieve at high levels.

According to a new Tennessee study, the most effective new teachers in the state are being trained by Teach for America, not traditional colleges of education, with the exception of math teachers from Vanderbilt University. The organization has been placing teachers in Memphis since 2006. With money from the Gates Foundation, Memphis City Schools has doubled the number of TFA teachers it places each year to 100.

The study, by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, only takes into account teachers from colleges in Tennessee. The University of Memphis, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, UT-Martin and several smaller colleges score in the bottom 20 percent for the quality of reading teachers they produce according to student test scores.
Brad Leon, TFA vice president in Tennessee and Texas stated, "What I found really exciting is these results reflect the national studies. Our corps members are making an impact where they are needed the most."

Interestingly, although TFA participants start on a two year commitment, 63% of its alumni are working or studying in education. It's likely that not only do these TFA teachers have an enormous impact in their two years but also remain to the cause for years to come. These programs, along with a commitment to more time spent student teaching in traditional colleges of education, are keys to improving the teacher work force according to experts.

The full study can be found here.

What do you think of these results? Are Teach for America and other programs like them the answer to improving education?

Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Whatever is best for students...
written by Jill, VA, December 06, 2010

As long as the students are achieving I don't care who trains the teachers. Just keep the success of the students first and foremost in our minds.

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