Learning from Teach for America

Source: Independent Women’s Forum  

A new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis concludes we could learn a lot from Teach for America.

Education reformers largely agree that teachers should be hired based on competence and paid based on performance and that strong teachers should be placed in low-performing schools, yet the opposite takes place in most school districts…

Traditionally, public school teachers are recruited and retained based on their teaching degree, state certification and performance. Many public school teachers receive tenure after just two years of teaching, and the more experienced teachers have greater choice with respect to their school assignments, resulting in the most experienced teachers in the best schools.

Teach For America (TFA), however, is one program that recruits, trains and evaluates teachers differently. The teacher placement program has been in operation since 1990. TFA requires a rigorous interview and selection process, providing recruits with:

  • A guaranteed first and second year salary.
  • A training process that better prepares recruits for teaching than traditional certification.
  • Competition based on subject knowledge and teacher quality.

The program has placed more than 32,000 teachers in public schools in high poverty areas, and after completing the program, almost two-thirds of TFA recruits continue careers in education. In the 2013-2014 school year, 11,000 TFA members taught 750,000 students.

A variety of studies show that students with TFA teachers have higher academic achievement. The teaching profession needs to attract and retain more talented educators. TFA shows just how important it is to have high-quality, alternative programs that prepare and pay teachers like professionals.