Eric.ed.gov – Does Teach for America Have Long-Term Impacts?

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Children enter school with vastly different skill levels and formal schooling often magnifies these disparities over time. Widening achievement gaps between high- and low-income children have grown substantially in the last 50 years. Further, the opportunity gap facing most low-income students contributes to a host of academic and social challenges including: lower performance in math and reading, increased truancy and incarceration, less higher-level course taking, and lower graduation and college entrance rates than their higher-income peers, and these disparities are not new. Teach For America (TFA) was founded with the purpose of addressing these educational inequities. Early on in its existence, TFA became focused on “closing the achievement gap” for students in the schools it serves, and put a large stake in promoting, “significant gains,” (defined as 1.5 to 2 grade levels of improvement in core subject areas) for its students (Teach For America, 2013). For many of the students it serves, this target aimed to get students caught up to grade level standards. The research on TFA’s short term impacts is mixed, although experimental and quasi-experimental evidence finds that TFA teachers are more effective than non-TFA teachers in many settings, particularly in high school math and science, and elementary math. This study extends existing research on short-term TFA impacts to examine whether TFA has any relationship with students’ long-term academic outcomes. Specifically, I examine whether having a TFA teacher in elementary, middle, or high school is associated with improved student educational outcomes at the end of high school. The author examined the relationship between TFA and long-term student attainment using administrative data from the state of North Carolina. TFA places teachers in two regions in North Carolina. Eastern North Carolina, which encompasses rural and urban areas, opened in 1990 and was one of TFA’s charter locations. Charlotte, which is a primarily urban region, has had corps members since 2004. Analyses for this study concentrate on the students in grades 3-12 and their teachers. The author examined the relationship between having a TFA teacher and end of high school attainment by comparing students who had TFA teachers with students who had the possibility of being in a TFA teacher’s classroom but were not. To do so, the author compared students within schools, grades, and years that have TFA teachers using fixed effects. Results suggest different patterns for students who have TFA teachers in grades 3-8 versus 9-12. Among students who ever have a TFA teacher in high school, there is a negative association with dropping out, a decline of 0.012 standard deviations. There is also a positive association of having a TFA teacher and graduating high school, an increase of 0.034 standard deviations, compared with students who were in the same schools, grades, and subjects, but did not have a TFA teacher. In contrast, in elementary and middle school, there is no evidence of a relationship between having a TFA teacher and long term outcomes. Tables are appended.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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