Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teach for America coming to Kentucky -- finally

Great news!

A news release passed along by the Kentucky Department of Education says the Bluegrass State is about to get its first group of Teach for America (TFA) teachers. They are heading for some of our most demanding Appalachian area schools.

Who are these teachers? They are graduates from some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges who major in core academic subjects rather than education. They are competitively recruited by TFA to get the extra training they need for teaching and then commit to serve at least two years in a challenging school.

Teach for America’s web site says:

“Teach For America provides a critical source of well-trained teachers who are helping break the cycle of educational inequity. 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.”

Outside research confirms that TFA teachers do a good job, especially in high schools.

One study by the University of North Carolina found that TFA teachers outperformed classically trained teachers from UNC in 5 out of 9 comparisons. TFA teachers matched the UNC graduates in the other four comparisons. In no case did the TFA teachers perform more poorly.

The same study shows TFA has the biggest advantage in high schools. That makes sense given the fact that TFA candidates have majored in important academic areas like math and science.

It will be interesting to see how the TFA teachers perform compared to other new teachers.

Will they match, or exceed, the performance of teachers from some of our ed schools?

Will Kentucky be able to encourage these potentially outstanding new teachers to stay on after their two-year commitments are completed?

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