Professor Su Jin Jez, of Sacramento State’s Public Policy and Administration Graduate Program, has coauthored an education policy brief titled, “Teach For America: A Review of the Evidence.” The brief looks at the impact of Teach For America, which aims to address teacher shortages by sending graduates from elite colleges, most of whom do not have a background in education, to teach in low-income rural and urban schools for a two-year commitment. The brief is available at www.epicpolicy.org/publication/teach-for-america.
Research on the impact of TFA teachers produces a mixed picture, with results af- fected by the experience level of the TFA teachers and the group of teachers with whom they are compared. Studies have found that, when the comparison group is other teachers in the same schools who are less likely to be certified or traditional- ly prepared, novice TFA teachers perform equivalently, and experienced TFA teachers perform comparably in raising reading scores and a bit better in raising math scores.
The question for most districts, however, is whether TFA teachers do as well as or better than credentialed non-TFA teachers with whom school districts aim to staff their schools. On this question, studies indicate that the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of credentialed beginning teachers.