From the Field

Student Performance and Teacher Prep: Traditional vs. Alternative

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In recent years, increasing numbers of school teachers have come to the profession through alternative training models, such as Teach for America, rather than the traditional pipeline on college campuses. A team of researchers set out to find whether the preparation model matters for student achievement.

After reviewing a dozen studies conducted between 1998 and 2015,  researchers found that elementary and middle school students with teachers from alternative programs had marginally better test scores than those with teachers from the traditional mode. The meta analysis found no significant difference in high school, according to the article published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. The authors–Denise K. Whitford, Dake Zhan and Antonis Katsiyannis–suggested that the success of the alternative programs, particularly Teach for America, argued for finding ways to recruit non-education majors to teach students in high needs schools and specific subject areas. They also stressed that the results vary among programs and school districts and that deeper research should be undertaken.