“Since its inception in 1990, Teach for America (TFA) has been a lighting rod for both praise and criticism,” says Deborah Michaels, education. “On the one hand, TFA places college graduates from top academic institutions into high-need schools in poor urban and rural communities. On the other hand, critics contend that the program harms students by placing them in classrooms with undertrained, inexperienced teachers.”

This summer, Courtney Hemker ’14, Wei Chung Hsu ’14, and Kaydi-Ann Newsome ’14 joined Michaels in a mentored advanced project to review the major studies of TFA, including charting the research designs, conclusions, strengths, and limitations of major studies of TFA.  Each then focused on new research in different areas:

  • Exploring the construction of teacher quality in quantitative analyses of TFA;
  • Writing a case study of the implementation of TFA in a country outside the United States; and
  • Designing and analyzing a survey of Grinnell alumni’s experiences with TFA.


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