Dallas ISD's Board of Trustees Set to Receive Glowing Update on Teach for America in Dallas

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Four months back, Dallas Independent School District trustee Carla Ranger directed our attention to a a study by UT-Austin Assistant Professor of Educational Policy and Planning Julian Vasquez Heilig that questioned whether Highland Park High School grad Wendy Kopp's Teach for America was the success story it claims. Ranger also pointed out a Washington Post analysis of said study, which concluded that "students of Teach for America teachers score lower on reading and math tests than students of beginning traditional public school teachers with full credential." At which point several supporters of TFA, not to mention a few of its graduates, hopped in the comments and pointed out that the UT study was flawed and insisted the program -- which gives recent college grads a five-week crash course in teaching before placing them in low-income urban and rural schools -- works as intended, but thanks for playing.

Which brings us to next Thursday's DISD board briefing, where the trustees will receive what is, for now, a single-page update on TFA in Dallas classrooms. The doc follows, but long story short: The district is more than pleased with TFA and plans on expanding the program into even more schools during the 2010-11 school year, as in: "51 Dallas ISD schools, 14 Uplift Education schools, four Texans CAN! Academies, the St. Anthony Academy (non-parochial), and KIPP TRUTH Academy." Says the doc:

Their remarkable initiative has driven the Dallas corps to make considerable progress, posting student achievement figures second in the nation among Teach For America's 39 regions. The ability of Teach For America to serve in Dallas has been made possible by the efforts of trustees, philanthropists, district leaders, and community stakeholders. Dallas area foundations and corporations, as well as leaders like State Senators Royce West and Florence Shapiro and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, have been a part of the lead effort to secure state and federal support for Teach For America and have driven the ability for Teach For America to expand into Dallas.

The cost that Teach For America accrues per corps member for recruiting, selecting, training, and providing ongoing support amounts to approximately $20,000 dollars per year. The ability for Teach For America to operate depends heavily on the support and buy-in of an array of stakeholders within the philanthropic community and other entities to cover the majority of expenditures (85%), while partner districts are the sole beneficiaries of the outcomes. Partner districts currently provide funding to offset only 15% of the total cost per a corps member. Dallas ISD offsets a majority of this cost as the district recoups up to $3,500 dollars per a corps member, because all first year incoming TFA teachers are certified through the Dallas AC program.

DISD officials are off for the holiday and unavailable for comment; we'll post more Monday. Till then, jump for the rave review.

Teach for America Dallas Update

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