Teach for America’s internal analyses identify a teacher as one of the “best” if the teacher moves his or her students’ test scores one and a half or more years ahead of their previous year’s scores. The Atlantic reports that “in 2007, 24 percent of Teach for America teachers moved their students one and a half or more years ahead, according to the organization’s internal reports. In 2009, that number was up to 44 percent.”
The numbers are not foolproof, as the tests administered vary from state to state, and in some states where the given tests were not rigorous enough, Teach for America has designed its own tests. Nonetheless, the numbers suggest that Teach for America manages to recruit a number of teachers who are highly successful at improving student learning, and they are strengthening their ability to identify and recruit these “superstar” teachers.
College students who are involved in extracurricular activities and who take leadership roles in those activities are among the most likely to produce impressive gains in student learning when they become teachers. Grade point average is also a good indicator of the potential teacher’s ability to pursue and achieve goals.
Overall life satisfaction
Those applicants who report that they are “very content with their lives” are “43 percent more likely to perform well in the classroom than their less satisfied colleagues,” reports the Atlantic.
Ability to persevere in the face of obstacles
Refine and re-evaluate teacher hiring processes
Finally, if public schools want to work to increase the numbers of qualified teachers they place in their classrooms, they can learn from Teach for America’s passion for analyzing and refining its own hiring processes. Teach for America directors use the data that they collect to continually rework the algorithm they have developed for determining which applicants are most likely to be successful classroom teachers.
If public schools were to start tracking teacher performance and analyzing which aspects of the hiring process were most predictive of future classroom performance, they could use that information to improve the teacher hiring process. This would improve the chances of hiring those applicants who are most likely to be superstar teachers.
While there is much controversy surrounding changing today’s educational infrastructure, evaluating our instructors and holding them to higher standards can only result in benefits for our country’s children. If Teach for America’s instructors, who only receive “boot camp” training instead of an official teaching certification education, can outperform veteran teachers, why can’t all of our teachers become superstars?
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