ATLANTA – Classroom instructors who take a summer training course produce better students than those who graduated from traditional teacher-preparation colleges, according to a new state report.

The study released Tuesday said the Teach For America program that offers an alternative route into the classroom is more effective in preparing educators, regardless of the experience of the teachers compared. A major drawback, it showed, is that the Teach For America graduates give up on the profession quicker than the college-prepared educators.

The analysis was done by the Department of Audits and Accounts, the agency that evaluates state agencies. It was done at the request of the House Appropriations Committee.

Teach For America recruits mostly recent college graduates with majors other than education who usually have a 3.0 grade point average. It gives them five to seven weeks of training and places them in low-income communities for a two-year commitment.

The auditors reviewed results for the 1,600 teachers Teach for America placed in metro Atlanta schools since 2000, partly funded by the $400 million federal Race to the Top grant the state won.

“Our analysis of Georgia teachers’ student-growth scores indicate TFA-Metro Atlanta corps members generally perform better than non-TFA teachers, regardless of experience,” the report said. “Finally, most system staff and principals we interviewed indicated they were satisfied with the performance of TFA corps members they had hired.”

About 85 percent of the students taught by Teach For America beginning teachers met or exceeded the state’s standards compared to 70-74 percent of those in the classes of traditional certified, rookie teachers. Only 77 percent of veteran teachers saw the same achievement in their students.

Some critics have warned that shortcutting teacher preparation would lead to poor classroom results. This study suggests that’s not the case.

It does show that four out of five of the Teach For America graduates leave the classroom when their two-year commitment ends. But the turnover rate in low-income schools is high for all teachers, and half of the traditional teachers typically leave within five years.

The legislators were especially interested in how the program could be expanded to the rest of the state. The auditors found that won’t be easy.

“Any significant changes in Georgia’s TFA corps size must overcome the fact that TFA’s national strategy includes slowing the pace of new site expansion,” they wrote. “TFA is instead focusing on improving the current 52 regions, increasing the number of recruits, and ensuring the regions’ financial stability absent Race to the Top funding.”

Another issue is money. Just adding 10 TFA teachers would require $435,000 more taxpayer money from the state, or $16,000 per teacher.

At the same time, the University System of Georgia is working to improve traditional teachers. One change is requiring more time practice teaching before graduation.

The state’s new tracking system will begin grading individual colleges’ teacher-prep programs based on the performance of their graduates’ classrooms. Colleges that consistently get poor results could find their graduates denied teaching certificates.

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