Advantage barely trained 22-year-olds

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[Conor Friedersdorf]

The Urban Institute has published a paper on Teach for America that suggests the recent college graduates it employs are an impressive bunch.

As the abstract notes (emphasis mine):

TFA teachers are more effective, as measured by student exam performance, than traditional teachers. Moreover, they suggest that the TFA effect, at least in the grades and subjects investigated, exceeds the impact of additional years of experience, implying that TFA teachers are more effective than experienced secondary school teachers. The positive TFA results are robust across subject areas, but are particularly strong for math and science classes.

Eduwonk notes:

What this study should do is shift the burden off of Teach for America to prove why TFA'ers should teach and onto critics of TFA to show, because they're as good or better, why they shouldn't. It should also spark a renewed debate about how we train and license teachers because it's frankly not a ringing endorsement of the status quo that kids just out of college with a five week crash course turn in results like this. Just think about the results from a system that gave schools more flexibility about hiring, encouraged mentoring and support for new teachers, and included rigorous preparation...

Take that education schools!

See the rest of Eduwonk's post here for more.

UPDATE: I've clearly got too many Eduwonk posts open in my browser. (Thanks to AR for the pointer -- the above Eduwonk quote refers to an earlier study lauding Teach for America.)

Eduwonk's take on the current study:

The genius of TFA is that they've figured out a way to screen for some of the other traits that matter to effective teaching. Unfortunately, as is often the case in our field, rather than replicate or learn from that people are still mostly attacking it...in our industry if you build a better mousetrap you either get an argument about mice or they just come to your door and burn down your house...

Take that education schools!

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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