Update: “Fatal Flaws” in Edvance Texas TFA study
Teach for America released a new study this week about their Texas operation. It is nearly 100 pages long, but when I reviewed the study I noted a fatal flaw. See my discussion of the fatal flaw in The Monitor: Study finds Teach for America corps members, alumni had outsized impact on middle schools in several Texas districts – The Monitor: Local News. See excerpts from The Monitor story below…
TFA argues that their study:
The data this research provides is pretty clear that we’re having a positive impact on the achievement of low-income students,” said Robert Carreon, executive director of Teach for America Rio Grande Valley.
The data gathered for the report also did not analyze teacher certification or degree programs. Julian Vasquez Heilig, an education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said the lack of certification data was a “fatal flaw” for the study.
“You’re comparing apples to oranges,” he said. “Experience is not always a proxy for training.”
David Goodman, a researcher who helped conduct the study, said Edvance was unable to obtain individual teacher certification data from the state but said the effect sizes were so strong, controlling for certification would not have eliminated them altogether.
But Heilig said teacher certification is at the heart of the instructor quality problem TFA wants to address.
“A revolving door of untrained, uncertified teachers is probably our biggest single problem in education today,” he said.
See also a statistical review conducted by NEPC of the Edvance TFA report. The researchers conclude:
Because of those [statistical] limitations, Fuller and Dadey caution that the report does not provide solid evidence that either TFA teachers or TFA alumni have a measured effect on student test scores.
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