Sunday, April 15, 2007

Troops to Teachers vs Teach for America

*Disclaimer: All ribbing was made in jest. I totally respect both the TFA program and Ivy League schools.

My highly scientific study inspired by Teaching in the 408:

Hypothesis: Patriotic salty military veterans make better teachers than snot nosed young idealistic Ivy League graduates.

Method: Google (do I need to say anymore?)


Survey of TFA school principals by Kane, Parsons & Associates, 2005

Quality of Training

Three out of four principals (75 percent) rated Teach For America corps members' training as better than that of other beginning teachers.

Nearly all principals (95 percent) reported that corps members' training is at least as good as the training of other beginning teachers.

Impact on Student Achievement

Nearly three out of four principals (74 percent) considered the Teach For America teachers more effective than other beginning teachers with whom they've worked.

The majority of principals (63 percent) regarded Teach For America teachers as more effective than the overall teaching faculty, with respect to their impact on student achievement.

Supervisor Perceptions of the Quality of Troops to Teachers Program: Completers and Program Completer Perceptions of their Preparation to Teach: A National Survey

Principals overwhelmingly (over 90%) reported that Troops to Teachers are more effective in classroom instruction and classroom management/student discipline than are traditionally prepared teachers with similar years of teaching experience.

Principals stated (89.5%) that T3s have a positive impact on student achievement to a greater degree than do traditionally prepared teachers with similar years of teaching experience.

T3s strongly agreed or agreed that their preparation program equipped them to use research-based instructional practices associated with increased student achievement and effective classroom management behaviors.

School administrators overwhelmingly "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that Troops to Teachers exhibited research-based instructional behaviors to a greater degree than traditionally prepared teachers with comparable years of teaching experience.
Conclusion: While both groups of students do better than traditionally educated teachers, my hypothesis was confirmed. Extensive analysis shows that salty old veterans kick young college educated punks idealist asses in the classroom.

Notes: I also suspect that Troops to Teachers could beat Teach for America in a street fight.

Seriously, I think a formal study would make for interesting reading. There are more military veterans than their are top tier college graduates who would be willing to make teaching a long term career.

On a related note, the Air Force has long had their own Community College of the Air Force which enables AF recruits to get an associates degree in their technical specialty.

The problem has been that much of the technical credits wouldn't transfer to four year universities requiring us enlisted to take a significant amount of extra classes to get our bachelors degree. Additionally, since us in the military tend to move pretty often (and go fight annoying little wars), we often have to transfer schools. The end result being that some of our previous traditional classes aren't applicable to the programs at the new location. Online programs are an option, but even they don't accept all of our credits.

This summer, the Air University is going to implement an Associates-to-Baccalaureate program in conjunction with several universities. The program would provide us with several degree programs in which 100% of our CCAF associates degree are transferable. This would mean that after earning our Associates degree, we would only have to complete 60 more credits to get our Bachelors degree. The programs will all be fully accredited, and be able to be completed at any location around the world.

It occurred to me that implementation of this program would significantly increased the number of military veterans retiring with Bachelors degrees which would then enable them to go on to get their teaching credentials.

I have already decided to go into education after I retire (duh...), but feel like I am swimming upstream trying to complete my bachelors degree. I have taken classes at over five different schools in the last 10 years, and though I am very careful with the classes I take, I realize several of them won't be needed for my final degree.

I have actually decided to take this summer off school, partly because I am moving to Alaska, but also to see which degrees and which schools are going to be part of this program.

Update: corrections made to prevent making people cry.

What do great middle schools have in common?

Unstuck in the Middle -

Jay Matthews picks the best middle schools of the Washington D.C. area.

With few exceptions, the schools are all in well to do neighborhoods with a small percentage of blacks and Hispanics.

Wouldn't it be a more interesting article, if it told us which middle schools in affluent neighborhoods aren't successful.

Of course the school with the highest percentage (99.9%) of blacks was the KIPP DC: Key Academy. They had an awesome 75% algebra completion rate... higher than most of the public affluent schools.

Reading, Writing & Frustration -

Reading, Writing & Frustration -

I suspect that a large percentage of so called dyslexia could be prevented by sound reading instruction. At the very least it could be diagnosed at an early age.

Back then, Sarah had a fondness for the book Put Me in the Zoo, not great literature but great fun to read when you're starting out on that voyage to literacy. She'd read the tale, about a funny, spotted leopard desperate for a home in the zoo, seemingly effortlessly, over and over again: "I would like to live this way. This is where I want to stay." At least, we thought she was reading it.

We soon discovered, when Sarah turned to other books, that she had been memorizing the words. Basic words such as "ball," "the" and "dog" baffled her. Sometimes she recognized words on one page but had no recall when she saw the words again a page later. At times, she reversed the order of words in sentences or skipped them entirely.

We brought up our concerns with her first-grade teacher. "You need to read to her more" was her response. But we were already reading heavily to Sarah. My husband and I are writers, and reading is a passion. We redoubled our efforts, recording the number of books on a log we kept on the kitchen table. Once a week, she took it to school, where the teacher put congratulatory stickers on it. By the end of the year, she'd hit 460 books.

Surely Sarah would pick up the ball and run with it, we thought. But while the other second-graders in her public school were sailing through The Magic School Bus and Amber Brown-- books with chapters, plots and complex thoughts -- Sarah was stuck with basic readers such as The Snowball.

"I saw a snowball on a hill," it read. "It rolled along and picked up Bill!"

She read haltingly, stumbling over the simplest words. She surprised and baffled us by doing well on spelling tests, until we realized she was once again memorizing. Gradually, it dawned on Sarah, too, that there was a problem.
Well duh...

The article goes on to blame all of her woes on dyslexia, a syndrome that affects "5 to 15 percent of schoolchildren with normal or above-average intelligence."

It seems to me that schools should address the other syndrome that affects far more children. The poor teaching syndrome, characterized by lack of effective reading instruction, a reliance on idealistic but flawed pedagogy, and an abundance of frustrated children and parents.