Ilana Garon

Writer | Educator

Insignificant Figures: Mathematica Scores TFA Teachers

Over the weekend, my cousin sent me policy wonk Dylan Mathews’ blog entry in the Washington Post, entitled, “Teach for America is a deeply divisive program. It also works.” Well, there you have it! The article discusses a new study by Mathematica Policy Research, which apparently vindicates criticisms of TFA by showing that the gains produced by teachers in the TFA program–based on their students’ performance on state math tests–surpass not only those produced by teachers in other emergency-certification programs (such as Teaching Fellows) but also those produced by teachers who entered the teaching profession though traditional means (education programs at the college level, etc.) Proponents of the TFA program believe this study provides irrefutable evidence that TFA does “active good.”

Better statistical minds than mine (such as the awesome Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, an education policy professor at UT-Austin) have already found major flaws in this study, some of which I’ll summarize here…

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