Thompson: How Should We Read Mathematica's TFA Study?
But, teachers are expected to either rejoice or mourn when 23-year-olds show success as teachers. How crazy is that?
When Mathematica finds that TFA teachers increased math performance, that is good news. Its latest report, The Effectiveness of Secondary Math Teachers from Teach for America and the Teacher Fellows Program, found that they were a modest .07 of a standard deviation more effective than other teachers in those low-income schools.
I don't believe in criticizing fellow teachers and TFA are our colleagues. Neither do I have a dog in the fight over the way TFA selects its candidates. For instance, TFA seeks applicants who have "a desire to work relentlessly in pursuit of the organization’s vision."
My complaint is with TFA alumni who have imposed their opinion that those qualities are enough to transform high-poverty schools.
As the Mathematica study explains, math is one of the subjects where low-income secondary schools have the greatest difficulty retaining qualified teachers. Poor schools should address the deplorable conditions that make it impossible to retain teachers who are in high demand.
It does no good to blame the teaching profession, unions, or education schools for systemic failures.
I couldn't care less if a TFA teacher believes that schools, alone, can systematically overcome generational poverty, except if he tries to impose that snake oil on school systems.
Even then, when a teacher - any teacher, regardless of his opinions - succeeds, we should rejoice.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.