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Examining Spillover Effects from Teach For America Corps Members in Miami-Dade County Public Schools

June 1, 2014

Despite a large body of evidence documenting the effectiveness of Teach For America (TFA) corps members at raising the math test scores of their students, little is known about the program's impact at the school level. TFA's recent placement strategy in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), where large numbers of TFA corps members are placed as clusters into a targeted set of disadvantaged schools, provides an opportunity to evaluate the impact of the TFA program on broader school performance. This study examines whether the influx of TFA corps members led to a spillover effect on other teachers' performance. We find that many of the schools chosen to participate in the cluster strategy experienced large subsequent gains in math achievement. These gains were driven in part by the composition effect of having larger numbers of effective TFA corps members. However, we do not find any evidence that the clustering strategy led to any spillover effect on school-wide performance. In other words, our estimates suggest that extra student gains for TFA corps members under the clustering strategy would be equivalent to the gains that would result from an alternate placement strategy where corps members were evenly distributed across schools.

Access to Effective Teaching for Disadvantaged Students

November 30, 2013

Recent federal initiatives in education, such as Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and the flexibility policy for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are designed in part to ensure that disadvantaged students have equal access to effective teaching. The initiatives respond to the concern that disadvantaged students may be taught by less effective teachers and that this could contribute to the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and other students. To address the need for evidence on this issue, the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education initiated a study to examine access to effective teaching for disadvantaged students in 29 diverse school districts. Mathematica Policy Research and its partner, the American Institutes for Research, conducted the study, which focused on English/ language arts (ELA) and math teachers in grades 4 through 8 from the 2008 -- 2009 to the 2010 -- 2011 school year.