Reconsidering Seniority-Based Layoffs: Los Angeles Teach For America Edition

A new study from the Broad Foundation finds that Teacher for America teachers out-performed other LAUSD teachers including those with more seniority. This offers more evidence that it is detrimental for kids and expensive for school districts to lay-off teachers based on the number of years of service rather than performance.

Via Education Week’s Teacher Beat:

Students taught by Teach For America teachers in Los Angeles outperformed peers who were taught by other teachers—including veterans with many more years of experience.

Initially, the study was performed for internal purposes. Having provided quite a bundle of financial backing for TFA, Broad wanted to get a sense of how its investment was paying off in terms of stronger student learning. But officials for the group said they ultimately decided to make the study public given the growing national conversation about teacher effectiveness.

California state test-score results of students of 119 second-year TFA teachers in grades 2-12 were compared with those of the students of 1,190 non-TFA teachers in the same grade levels, subjects, and schools as the TFA teachers, during 2005 and 2006.

The results are interesting for a few reasons. First of all, TFA teachers were linked to test scores that were 3 points higher overall than non-TFA teachers, even those who had been in the classroom much longer. And, they were even more effective than other teachers with similar years of teaching experience. (The scores for that comparison were 4 points higher for TFA teachers than for non-TFA teachers.)

I discuss the problems with California’s seniority-based lay-off system here.