Study links TFA selection criteria to gains

Teach for America teachers rated high on academic achievement, leadership and perseverance are more effective math teachers in grades three through eight, concludes a new study (pdf) by Will Dobbie of Harvard. Leadership and belief in TFA goals was linked to English gains, but less clearly. Teacher Beat reports:

TFA selects its recruits through a detailed selection process that uses a mix of scored assessments, including essays, a group activity, recommendations, and a sample teaching lesson.

The qualities it measures include: achievement (academic GPA or work performance), leadership (performance in leadership role), perseverance (ability to work through obstacles), critical thinking (outlining solutions to problems methodically), organization (attention to deadlines and clarity of instruction), motivational ability (ability to keep students on task), respect (attitudes toward low-income individuals), and fit (whether the candidate believes TFA’s goals are attainable).

Critical thinking, organizational ability, motivation, and respect for others were not linked to classroom effectiveness.  However, students in third through fifth grade taught by a teacher who scored higher on the respect measure were less likely to have a behavior infraction.


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