Speaking of AERA, the new study on Teach For America teachers released yesterday is a pretty big deal. Basically, there is not a lot of disagreement about the secondary effects of TFA, namely that it brings a lot really talented people into the education field, a little less than half stay in teaching after thier two-year commitment, and many others start or join all manner of successful educational efforts and increasingly serve in appointed and elected positions in the public sector.
But, it’s a legitimate question as to whether TFA teachers are good for students while they are teaching. That’s been a very contentious debate. This study, along with the Mathematica study (pdf), seem to indicate that TFA certainly clears a “first do no harm” threshold in that regard. And, like the Mathematica study and unlike several other TFA evaluations, this one has very solid methods behind it. This one is also significant because it looks at secondary schools.
Can’t help but note that a lot of TFA’s most vocal critics have touted a lot of human capital reforms that have a lot less in the way of high quality research behind them.