WWC review of this study

The effectiveness of secondary math teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows programs (NCEE 2013-4015).

Clark, M. A., Chiang, H. S., Silva, T., McConnell, S., Sonnenfeld, K., Erbe, A., & Puma, M. (2013). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED544171

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    4,116
     Students
    , grades
    6-12
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: June 2017

Mathematics achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
4,116 students

-0.39

-0.39

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Novice teachers;
354 students

-0.4

-0.53

Yes

 
 
6

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers and comparison teachers from less selective alternative certification routes;
902 students

-0.5

-0.63

Yes

 
 
5

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Middle school teachers;
1,610 students

-0.35

-0.39

No

--

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Experienced teachers;
2,408 students

-0.27

-0.3

No

--

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Teachers with similar years of experience;
1,283 students

-0.17

-0.2

No

--

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers and comparison teachers from traditional certification routes;
3,268 students

-0.36

-0.32

No

--

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

High school teachers;
2,506 students

-0.41

-0.39

No

--

Mathematics assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Novice TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers and experienced comparison teachers;
1,153 students

-0.63

-0.53

Yes

-3
 
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 8% English language learners

  • 75% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 54%
    Male: 46%
  • Race
    Asian
    9%
    Black
    50%
    Not specified
    36%
    White
    5%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    36%
    Not Hispanic
    64%

Setting

The study was conducted in 44 secondary schools in nine school districts in eight states.

Study sample

The study included two cohorts of students in grades 6–12: one that participated in the 2009–10 school year, and one that participated in the 2010–11 school year. In each participating school, students were randomly assigned within “classroom matches” to either a class taught by a TNTP Teaching Fellows teacher or a class taught by a comparison teacher. A classroom match consisted of two or more classes covering the same eligible middle or high school math courses that were deemed comparable by the study authors based on factors such as level (for example, honors or regular), length (one or two semesters), and arrangements made for the inclusion of English learners and special education students. After 7,288 students (3,659 TNTP Teaching Fellows, 3,629 comparison) were randomly assigned, attrition occurred due to students leaving the school prior to the start of the school year, lack of parental consent, or students not having valid end-of-year mathematics achievement scores. The analytic sample included 4,116 students (2,127 TNTP Teaching Fellows, 1,989 comparison) taught by 153 teachers (69 TNTP Teaching Fellows, 84 comparison) in 44 schools. The mean age of the students was 14.3 years. Among the sample, 60% of students were in grades 9–12, 54% were female, 75% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, 7% were limited English proficient, and 6% had an individualized education plan. The racial/ethnic demographics were as follows: 50% were Black, 36% were Hispanic, 9% were Asian, 5% were White, and 1% were another race/ethnicity. In addition, the authors present subgroup findings for school levels (middle or high school), years of teaching experience, and comparison group teachers’ route to certification (traditional or less selective alternative). The years of teaching experience comparisons include: (a) TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers in their first 3 years of teaching vs. non-TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers in their first 3 years of teaching, (b) TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers in their first 3 years of teaching vs. non-TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers with more than 3 years of experience, (c) TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers with more than 3 years of experience vs. non-TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers with more than 3 years of experience, and (d) TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers vs. non-TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers whose levels of teaching experience differ by no more than 2 years. The subgroup findings are reported in Appendix D. The supplemental findings do not factor into the intervention’s rating of effectiveness.

Intervention Group

Students were taught by TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers. The mean years of teaching experience at the end of the study year was 4.0. Among TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers, 72% had a bachelor’s degree from a most, highly, or very competitive college or university; 25% majored in math, none majored in secondary math education, and 33% majored in other math-related subjects. Regarding math content knowledge, the mean score was 158 among teachers who took the Praxis II Mathematics Content Knowledge Test (0.80 standard deviations higher than comparison teachers) and 187 among teachers who took the Praxis II Middle School Mathematics Test (0.92 standard deviations higher than comparison teachers). The mean age of TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers at the time of the study was 33.3 years, and 54% of TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers were female, 71% were White, 17% were Black, 9% were Hispanic, and 9% were Asian. The authors did not report any deviations from the TNTP Teaching Fellows model.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group were taught by teachers who did not enter teaching through TNTP Teaching Fellows, Teach For America, or other highly selective alternative routes to certification. The majority (73%) of comparison teachers entered teaching through a traditional route to certification (that is, they became certified teachers after completing a standard postsecondary program for teaching and related certification requirements), with the remainder entering through a less selective alternative route. The mean years of teaching experience at the end of the study year was 13.0. Among comparison teachers, 34% had a bachelor’s degree from a most, highly, or very competitive college or university; 43% majored in math, 13% majored in secondary math education, and 23% majored in other math-related subjects. Regarding math content knowledge, the mean score was 139 among teachers who took the Praxis II Mathematics Content Knowledge Test and 170 among teachers who took the Praxis II Middle School Mathematics Test. The mean age of comparison teachers at the time of the study was 41.0 years, and 57% of comparison teachers were female, 43% were White, 36% were Black, 19% were Asian, and 13% were Hispanic.

Support for implementation

Training provided to TNTP Teaching Fellows participants prior to their becoming classroom teachers consists of about 25 hours of independent study and a 4-hour orientation followed by an intensive 5- to 7-week summer institute that includes practice teaching in public summer school classrooms, coursework led by program and district staff, and program staff providing feedback after evaluating participants’ teaching performance. Of the eight TNTP Teaching Fellows programs in the study, three also provided a review of mathematical concepts in intensive summer “math immersion” programs for participants who otherwise might be ineligible to teach secondary math (for example, participants who lacked sufficient college math credits). After program participants begin teaching, TNTP Teaching Fellows staff provide about 10 hours of professional development in group sessions on topics such as classroom management, using data to inform instruction, and tailoring instruction for different students; conduct at least two formal classroom observations of each new teacher; hold at least two one-on-one meetings with each new teacher; and engage in informal check-in discussions or offer other support as needed. TNTP Teaching Fellows teachers also enrolled in local, state-authorized programs to complete the coursework required for certification.

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: August 2016

Mathematics achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Mathematics Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 6-12;
4,573 students

-0.52

-0.6

Yes

 
 
3
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Mathematics Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 9-12;
1,200 students

-0.69

-0.82

Yes

 
 
5

Mathematics Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 6–12, TFA vs. less selective alternative route to certification;
2,096 students

-0.52

-0.62

Yes

 
 
4

Mathematics Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 6-8;
3,373 students

-0.47

-0.52

Yes

 
 
3

Mathematics Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 6–12, teachers in their first 3 years of teaching;
710 students

-0.24

-0.32

Yes

 
 
3

Mathematics Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 6–12, TFA in their first 3 years of teaching vs. non-TFA with more than 3 years of experience;
3,642 students

-0.59

-0.66

Yes

 
 
3

Mathematics Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 6–12, TFA vs. traditional route to certification;
2,477 students

-0.52

-0.58

Yes

 
 
2

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 8% English language learners

  • 90% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 49%
    Male: 51%
  • Race
    Asian
    2%
    Black
    62%
    Not specified
    1%
    White
    7%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    28%
    Not Hispanic
    72%

Setting

The study was conducted in 45 secondary schools in 11 school districts in 10 TFA regions in eight states.

Study sample

The mean age of the students was 13.4 years. Among the sample, 75% of students were in grades 6–8, 49% were female, 90% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, 8% were limited English proficient, and 6% had an individualized education plan. The racial/ethnic demographics were as follows: 62% were Black, 28% were Hispanic, 7% were White, 2% were Asian, and 1% were another race/ethnicity.

Intervention Group

Students were taught by TFA teachers. Most teachers (83%) were current corps members within their 2-year teaching commitment, but some were TFA alumni who had completed the commitment and continued teaching. The mean years of teaching experience at the end of the study year was 1.9. Among TFA teachers, 81% had a bachelor’s degree from a most, highly, or very competitive college or university; 8% majored in math, none majored in secondary math education, and 27% majored in other math-related subjects. Regarding math content knowledge, the mean score was 162 among teachers who took the Praxis II Mathematics Content Knowledge Test (0.93 standard deviations higher than comparison teachers) and 180 among teachers who took the Praxis II Middle School Mathematics Test (1.19 standard deviations higher than comparison teachers). The mean age of TFA teachers at the time of the study was 24.5 years, and 61% of TFA teachers were female, 89% were White, 9% were Asian, 8% were Black, and 5% were Hispanic. The authors did not report any deviations from the TFA model.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group were taught by teachers who did not enter teaching through TFA, Teaching Fellows, or other highly selective alternative routes to certification. The majority (59%) of comparison teachers entered teaching through a traditional route to certification (that is, they became certified teachers after completing a standard postsecondary program for teaching and related certification requirements), with the remainder entering through a less selective alternative route. The mean years of teaching experience at the end of the study year was 10.1. Among comparison teachers, 23% had a bachelor’s degree from a most, highly, or very competitive college or university; 26% majored in math, 16% majored in secondary math education, and 12% majored in other math-related subjects. Regarding math content knowledge, the mean score was 140 among teachers who took the Praxis II Mathematics Content Knowledge Test and 158 among teachers who took the Praxis II Middle School Mathematics Test. The mean age of comparison teachers at the time of the study was 37.9 years, and 79% of comparison teachers were female, 57% were Black, 30% were White, 13% were Hispanic, and 11% were Asian.

Support for implementation

Training provided to TFA participants prior to their becoming classroom teachers involves an intensive 5-week summer institute that includes instructor-led coursework, practice teaching, independent work and reflection, and discussions with advisors. During their 2-year commitment, TFA staff observe teachers in their classrooms; provide training on topics such as classroom management, goal setting, lesson planning, pedagogy, and student assessment; and offer individualized support as needed.

Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: February 2016

Study sample characteristics were not reported.
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: May 2014

Mathematics achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Mathematics Assessments

TNTP Teaching Fellows vs. Traditional route

Posttest

Cohorts 1 and 2;
4,573 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
3

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 7% English language learners

  • 75% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 52%
    Male: 48%
  • Race
    Asian
    8%
    Black
    53%
    White
    5%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    33%
    Not Hispanic
    67%
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: May 2014

Mathematics achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Mathematics assessment

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Traditional teaching route

Posttest

Cohorts 1 and 2;
4,573 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
3

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 8% English language learners

  • 88% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 49%
    Male: 51%
  • Race
    Asian
    2%
    Black
    63%
    Not specified
    1%
    White
    7%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    27%
    Not Hispanic
    73%
 

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