One of the most interesting discussions I had in class during graduate school was about how to interpret the body of evidence that existed about Teach for America. At the time, Kane, Rockoff and Staiger (KRS) had just published “What does certification tell us about teacher effectiveness? Evidence from New York City” in Economics of Education Review . KRS produced value-added estimates for teachers and analyzed whether their initial certification described any variance in teacher effectiveness at raising student achievement scores. The results were, at least to me, astonishing. All else being equal, there was little difference if teachers were uncertified, traditionally certified, a NYC teaching fellow, or a TFA core member.

Most people viewed these results as a positive finding for TFA. With minimal training, TFA teachers were able to compete with teachers hired by other means. Is this not a vindication that the selection process minimally ensures an equal quality workforce?

I will not be discussing the finer points of

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