Teach For America and English Language Learners: Shortcomings of the Organization’s Training Model

Citation data:

Critical Education, Vol: 4, Issue: 12

Publication Year:
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https://ecommons.luc.edu/education_facpubs/44; https://works.bepress.com/amy_heineke/10
Hopkins, Megan; Heineke, Amy J.
Teach for America; Teacher Education; English Learners; Education Policy; Diversity; Education
article description
Teach For America (TFA) places novice teachers, referred to as corps members, in several regions across the United States that have among the highest English language learner (ELL) populations in the nation. In this paper, we present a policy and program analysis of TFA’s training related to ELLs, arguing that the organization inadequately prepares teachers to work with this student population even though it places corps members in regions with high ELL populations. First, we describe the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act amendment that allows TFA corps members to be considered highly qualified without ELL-related training. Next, we analyze TFA’s curriculum and teacher preparation approach specific to ELLs. We then describe alternative approaches, including an emerging residency model and a community-based program, which prepare teachers for specific local contexts and student populations. Drawing on these exemplars, we conclude with recommendations for TFA to modify its model in ways that would sufficiently prepare its corps to teach ELLs.