Teach For Australia (TFA) has been found to attract exceptional teachers to schools in low socioeconomic communities and address teacher shortages in areas of mathematics, science and technology.
A recent independent evaluation by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) found that we are having a big impact on student performance, teacher quality and teacher retention.
According to the evaluation, principals at partner schools said that TFA Associates are two to three times more effective than other graduate teachers because of their experience, study, confidence and subject knowledge.
The program was found to be extremely beneficial for schools struggling to attract high-quality teachers, schools struggling to retain staff for more than one year and schools in regional, rural and remote areas.
The evaluation also revealed that Associates added to the quality and variety of the teaching workforce, as many would not have considered teaching had it not been for the TFA program. Importantly, nearly two-thirds of TFA Associates continue to teach beyond their two-year placement in low socioeconomic schools.
The evaluation report collated feedback from Associates, teachers, school principals, mentors, students, parents and educational advisers through a series of face-to-face interviews, school visits, focus groups, observations and online surveys.
Teach For Australia, Chief Executive Officer, Melodie Potts Rosevear said that the program’s early success was the result of a rigorous selection process that attracted resilient, inspired and passionate young graduates with strong communication skills and a desire to redress educational disadvantage – essential qualities when faced with challenging school environments.
“We know, beyond doubt, that inspired teachers can empower young people to engage with education and reach their full potential.
“Given that 50,000 Aussie students drop out of school every year, with many falling into a devastating cycle of welfare dependency, criminal activity, mental health issues and even homelessness, we must find new ways to attract and retain high-quality teachers within schools in low socioeconomic communities and embrace systematic change,” said Ms Potts Rosevear.
The report found that the TFA program had several key benefits that, if implemented broadly, could benefit the entire Australian education system. These included better school induction processes for new graduates, support services such as mentors to help graduates adjust to a new school environment and stronger partnerships between schools, universities and government departments to meet the needs of schools in low socioeconomic communities.
Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, said that teacher quality has a profound impact on student performance and that developing more flexible pathways into teaching is critical to addressing teacher shortages.
“We understand that excellence in the classroom directly translates into national prosperity and productivity.
“That’s why in addition to the government’s investment in Teach For Australia, we will work with states and territories to promote alternative career pathways into teaching,” said Mr Pyne.
To date, the TFA program has placed over 200 Associates into schools across Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.