The secret TFA ‘quit rate’ revealed.
Let me first say that, despite my recent ‘suggestions’ for TFA, I think that it is a good organization. I criticize it the way a patriot of the U.S. might when it feels we’re going in a non-productive direction. They do a great job with recruitment and I think that the regional offices do a very nice job with placement and support throughout the year. The two weak links of the organization are the institute and the alumni associations.
The more important of these is the institute since improper training of new teachers leads to unfortunate students who have to suffer while the new teacher learns ‘on the job.’ It’s unfair to those students. TFA should do everything they can to ensure that this doesn’t happen, but they don’t. For some reason, TFA just won’t hear negative critique. They are very vocal and proud when something good gets said, but they try to hide anything bad. An example of this is the mysterious and secret ‘quit rate.’ It is not public knowledge how many TFAers don’t finish their two year commitment.
Before reading on, everyone think to yourself, “What is an acceptable ‘quit rate’?” Write it down. (That’s a little trick for getting more student activity while doing class discussion)
I’ve always felt that TFA should be tracking this number extremely carefully. I think it holds the key to evaluating how much good TFA is doing. I imagine a bell curve where a certain percent of TFA teachers quit during or after their first year. Now, and here’s the scary part, for every teacher who actually quits during or right after their first year, there are probably two other TFA teachers who had such bad years that they almost quit too. (I was unfortunately in this category) Basic statistics says that as you get closer to the average, there will be more people in each category. That’s where I get my one to two ratio of people who had horrific years that they quit to people who had horrific years that they almost quit. So whatever the ‘quit rate’ is, you should triple it to get the percent of first year TFAers who are very ineffective.
So what is the quit rate? Well, according to a Harvard University study that TFA seems to be proud of because it also shows that over 40% of TFAers stay for a third year at their original school (which is a really great thing to do), the magic number, the secret ‘quit rate’ as revealed on page 16 of this very well researched study is ‘approximately 10%.’
That’s not good enough, TFA. Time to bring the quality of the training up to the quality of recruitment.
Here’s the paper: