Commentary: Teach For America proves its value

This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools shouldn't pink-slip any effective teachers in the district's planned layoffs next week. That's not in students' best interests.

But Superintendent Peter Gorman is right to hire more Teach for America graduates regardless. They have proven their mettle. A new study shows they often have stronger academic backgrounds than other teachers and are generally highly effective in the classroom – more so in math and science than traditional teachers.

Those results will surprise some. But they come from a study of N.C. teachers between 2000 and 2006, recently released by the Urban Institute and CALDER (the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research), a research program involving several universities including Duke and Stanford.

The study debunks the notion that TFA graduates are academically weak and poorly trained. And it provides needed data on the impact TFA teachers are having in the classroom, data the authors said has been surprisingly absent.

This study was the first to focus on high schools, and it showed greater improvements in test scores for students with TFA teachers than for other students.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.