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NEPC Review: The Effects of High-Performing, High-Turnover Teachers on Long-Run Student Achievement: Evidence From Teach for America (Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, November 2022)

A study looked at Teach for America (TFA) teacher turnover and contributions to fourth through eighth grade student achievement in New York City public schools between 2012 and 2019. The study finds that, after six years of teaching, TFA teachers continue to improve their contributions to students’ standardized test scores at higher rates than their non-TFA colleagues. The report’s broader conclusions overreach, however. Specifically, it concludes that “the performance of the TFA workforce is strong enough to offset turnover,” and that the “TFA performance advantage is large enough to offset turnover costs.” Unfortunately, the report fails to define the “costs” of turnover or to account for the broader effects of the instability of the labor market on schools and districts—including negative effects on school climate, financial costs to districts, and the disproportionate placement of inexperienced TFA teachers in under-resourced schools.

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