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Teach For America (TFA) is an important but controversial source of teachers for hard-to-staff subjects in high-poverty U.S. schools. We present findings from the first large-scale experimental study of secondary math teachers from TFA. We find that TFA teachers are more effective than other math teachers in the same schools, increasing student math achievement by 0.07 standard deviations over one school year. Addressing concerns about the fact that TFA requires only a two-year commitment, we find that TFA teachers in their first two years of teaching are more effective than more experienced non-TFA teachers in the same schools.
Melissa Clark is a senior researcher at Mathematica Policy Research. Dr Clark specializes in the design and implementation of rigorous impact evaluations, with a focus on education policy. Melissa was the principal investigator for a recent random assignment evaluation for the U.S. Department of Education that assessed the impact of teachers from highly selective alternative certification programs, such as Teach For America and Teaching Fellows programs, on secondary student math achievement. She is currently directing a random assignment evaluation of Teach For America's impacts on student achievement at the elementary school level, funded by an i3 scale-up grant from the U.S. Department of Education.