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An Assessment of Teach for America Effectiveness and Spillover Effects in North Carolina

By Thomas Burr

Teach for America, while a relatively small cog in the grand scheme of education reform in America, has become something of a flashpoint for debate between the educational establishment and a new generation of reformers. In the first part of this research, I add to a growing number of studies on the effectiveness of TFA teachers by preforming regression analysis of student outcomes in grades 3-5 in North Carolina from 1995-2009 and find that, as measured by end of grade (EOG) math and reading test scores, first-year TFA teachers produce gains that are statistically indistinguishable from experienced teachers and approximately .09 standard deviations higher than other first-year teachers in math and .05 standard deviations higher in reading. In the second part of this research, I build off of Jackson and Bruegmann (2009), who for the first time showed evidence of peer effects between teachers, meaning that the outcomes of your own students can be affected by the quality of the other teachers in your grade. After confirming the results of Jackson/Bruegmann with three additional years of data, I add TFA status as an additional observable characteristic into the equation and find a statistically significant and positive effect to having a peer TFA teacher in your grade across several models.

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Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: I2, J24 | Tagged: Education, Peer Effects, Spillover, Teach for America

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