New Mathematica TFA Study is Irrational Exuberance

Dr Heilig’s initial critique of the TFA/Mathematica study. He makes talking about numbers fun(ish)

Cloaking Inequity

Teach For America (TFA) has sought to direct attention to a new study recently released by Mathematica.  A blogger at the Washington Post even argued that my prior critiques of TFA were “not true anymore.” (See all of my prior posts on TFA here.) Is that the case? Next week I will start an entire series on the Mathematica TFA study, but for now, because there is an avalanche of email and media inquiries about the study, I will discuss several important issues that I have noted in the study.

1) Mathematica TFA study does not say much about TFA writ large

The sample is large and covers an adequate number of students, schools and states. However, there are clearly some issues in the TFA sample that calls into question whether it really represents TFA and the profession more broadly.

The sample only contains secondary math teachers. However…

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Teach For America: Feel Good Spin vs. Dose of Reality From A Corps Member

A dose of TFA reality from former corps member.

Cloaking Inequity

I often receive notes and email from Teach For America teachers who have regret about their decision to join the corps (Please encourage teachers to send them to me. I will publish them here on Cloaking Inequity to give them voice). Should you believe the positive spin from your local TFA lobbyist, Mathematica, TFA recruiters, College of Education Deans, the wealthy and powerful, neoliberal foundations, Democrats, Republicans and everyone else?

Her letter about her TFA experience speaks for itself. Without further ado:

The Spin

Every year since 1990, Teach For America, an organization that seeks to end educational inequality, has recruited college graduates and sent them to teach in hard to staff, challenging communities throughout the United States (Donaldson & Johnson, 2010, p. 300).  Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America believed that, “If top recent college graduates devoted 2 years to teaching in public schools, they could have a…

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Huggy, Snuggly, Cuddly: Teach For America and Mathematica

Thoughts on too close relationships between Mathematics, TFA and their mutual donors and connections.

Cloaking Inequity

Wanna Cuddle? A new study paid for by the U.S. Department of Education enlisted the services of Mathematica, Inc., a research organization that has studied Teach For America and its subsidiaries, consistently for over a decade.[1] The reports have one thing in common: Teach For America and  the growing network of charter schools affiliated with TFA , end up with glowing reports of corps member effectiveness.

The most recent study released this month is focused this time, on the “gains” made by Teach For America’s Secondary Mathematics teachers. The report released by Mathematica, Inc., notes that gains attributed to TFA teachers, in secondary math education, which includes middle and high school teachers only teaching math, equated to two months of additional math instruction for students in mostly low-income schools. Julian Vasquez Heilig took issue with their conclusions here on Cloaking Inequity. See New Mathematica TFA Study is Irrational Exuberance

There are few huggy, snuggly, cuddly coincidences between Mathematic…

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“Does Not Compute”: Teach For America Mathematica Study is Deceptive?

I’ve heard John White and TFA may be touting a recent Mathematica study about TFA effectiveness compared to traditional teachers. I thought some of you might like to see some expert analysis of this study. Enjoy.

Cloaking Inequity

I’ll admit it. I am a sci-fi junkie. I am that lone person in the theater at a midnight showing on the release night of a new sci-fi film. Sometimes I am one of only 3 or 4 people in the theater. I should blame this probably on my parents who raised me on Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, B-movies with large radioactive ants attacking Los Angeles etc. One of my favorite shows as a kid was Lost In Space. Who doesn’t remember the robot declaring:

(Millennials— Wikipedia it)

Is it possible that Mathematica, a “reputable” multi-million dollar research for hire evaluation shop, could deceptively report their statistical findings to favor for Teach For America? Could they have also made fundamental errors in their assumptions about combining/comparing middle and high school test-score differences (albeit miniscule) attributed to Teach For America teachers essentially invalidating their (albeit…

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DC Insiders See Bleak Future for CCSS

Supporters of CCSS, PARCC, and Arne Duncan starting to see the writing on the wall.

Wonder who will support Duncan longer, Jindal or Obama?

Diane Ravitch's blog

This poll of DC insiders shows a deep pessimism about the prospects for Common Core and reauthorization of NCLB.

Most interesting observations:

• “Any bandwidth Congress has seems to be devoted to re‐litigating the health care act.”
• “There’s no sense of compromise and no incentive on either side to try to compromise.”
• “Arne Duncan has so mangled federal education at this point that it’s going to take a new administration and secretary to reframe the debate and offer a path forward.”

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