The Effectiveness of "Teach for America" and Other Under-certified Teachers

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GDR "village teacher" (a teacher tea...Image via WikipediaThe academic achievements of students taught by under-certified primary school teachers were compared to the academic achievements of students taught by regularly certified primary school teachers. This sample of under-certified teachers included three types of under-qualified personnel: emergency, temporary and provisionally certified teachers. One subset of these under-certified teachers was from the national program "Teach For America (TFA)." Recent college graduates are placed by TFA where other under-qualified under-certified teachers are often called upon to work, namely, low-income urban and rural school districts.
Certified teachers in this study were from accredited universities and all met state requirements for receiving the regular initial certificate to teach. Recently hired under-certified and certified teachers (N=293) from five low-income school districts were matched on a number of variables, resulting in 109 pairs of teachers whose students all took the mandated state achievement test. Results indicate 1) that students of TFA teachers did not perform significantly different from students of other under-certified teachers, and 2) that students of certified teachers out-performed students of teachers who were under-certified. This was true on all three subtests of the SAT 9�reading, mathematics and language arts. Effect sizes favoring the students of certified teachers were substantial. In reading, mathematics, and language, the students of certified teachers outperformed students of under-certified teachers, including the students of the TFA teachers, by about 2 months on a grade equivalent scale. Students of under-certified teachers make about 20% less academic growth per year than do students of teachers with regular certification.

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