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Study: "Teach for America" Teachers Among NC's Best Prepared

May 31, 2012

DURHAM, N.C. - Teachers from the Teach for America program are among the best prepared for classrooms in the state, compared with other early-career teachers, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina.

Compared with other educators with less than five years of experience, the report says teachers from TFA were more effective in 73 percent of all criteria evaluated, including student test scores. One of the researchers, Kevin Bastian, says one factor could be the rigorous selection process and training they receive.

"Selection is a big piece; their preparation is important too. They're getting people who aren't coming out of college prepared to be teachers, so they have to prepare and support them to be effective in the classroom. "

This month, TFA received a $45,000 grant from Progress Energy to help support programs in the eastern part of the state. Like all North Carolina teachers, those involved in TFA have been affected by state budget cuts, with larger class sizes and greater demands on educators.

Tim Hurley, TFA's executive director in Charlotte, says graduates of the program often become lifelong contributors to quality education.

"I think, coming in, they may not know that they're actually going to spend their careers in education, but when we survey our alumni across the nation, what we find is that two out of every three are working full-time in education."

TFA teachers receive almost a full year of education and hands-on training before entering the classroom. Last year, 48,000 people applied to TFA. Of those, Hurley says only 14 percent were selected for the program.

The study is available online at publicpolicy.unc.edu.

Reporting for this story by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest. Media in the Public Interest is funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Stephanie Carson/Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC