Surprise! TFA is serious about teacher quality. Not only do they recruit and retain the most qualified applicants, but they also boast a professional development program that puts most to shame. In an analogy that makes our stomachs turn, TFA veteran Mitchell London explains, “To compare the TFA support and that provided in my high school would be like comparing the greatest crème brûlée you’ve ever had to a piece of French toast wrapped around a stick of butter.” Yuck. Still, critics who complain that TFA encourages a culture of carpet-bagging amateurs in for a two-and-out foray into public teaching should consider the following: TFA spends $20,000 per teacher per year on improving teacher effectiveness. New corps members are expected to meet quantitative targets, either by reducing achievement gaps 20 percent, advancing their students 1.5 grade levels, or meeting 80 percent proficiency. But they get help in doing this. Rigorous valuations by TFA program directors and access to a growing portal of thousands of exemplar teaching videos and user-rated teaching material make it far easier for TFA teachers to get what all professional development programs are supposed to provide: real exposure to best practices in action. And all of this has been developed in the last five years, proving TFA’s agility and adeptness at self-improvement. Here’s to a winning combination of qualitative and quantitative feedback.

Growth Model,” by Stephen Sawchuck, Education Week, September 11, 2009 (subscription required)

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