Evan Thomas and Elizabeth Green debate teaching in Newsweek.
Worth reading. But per the post below, Elizabeth casually compares two studies of Teach For America teachers. Not to pick on her, but this is a classic example of the problem our field faces. Those two studies she cites are not the same in terms of their methodological quality. Until our field learns how to actually consume research rather than just piling up “studies” to see which stack is higher we are going to chase our tails.
In the case of TFA, the evidence base is quite clear based on multiple high-quality studies done independently of the organization: Teach For America teachers perform as well or better than other teachers, including veterans etc…
But, and you’d think this is what the critics would seize on because it has implications for the debate Evan and Elizabeth are having, the variance among TFA teachers is as great as among other teachers and, overall, while substantively significant (hence the popularity of the program among school districts) the effect sizes are not enormous. But to make that point you still have to acknowledge that the organization is doing a lot of good and has other important externalities as well. Yet right now the critics are more interested in castigating TFA than figuring out how to learn from what they’re doing, hence the confusion that surrounds the various “studies.