Back in March of 2011, when Ohio was in the midst of the Senate Bill 5 fight, Republicans in the General Assembly passed a law that didn’t garner much attention save for a moronic statement by Governor Kasich at the bill’s signing.

The change in Ohio Revised Code 3319.22(1) now requires the Ohio Department of Education to grant a 4-year Resident Educator License (new teacher license) to Teach for America, Inc. participants. These individuals clearly do not meet the qualifications that are spelled out in Ohio Administrative Code for teacher preparation programs in the State of Ohio that were put in place to ensure the quality of the teachers that we put in front of children.

By adopting those changes in state law, Ohio’s Republican legislators lowered the quality of teaching for future children by lowering the current standards for teacher preparation. Teach for America, Inc. is touted as bringing the best and the brightest to the classroom, but we have always done so in Ohio through existing state laws requiring universities to provide rigorous teacher preparation programs.

To drive this point home, we have constructed a comprehensive comparison of the Teach For America, Inc. program vs. the teacher licensing process that Ohio already had in place.

A Comparison of Teach for America, Inc. vs. Ohio’s Standards

Teacher Preparation

Teach for America:
Corps members attend a five-week institute in one of eleven locations, depending on their regional placement. During institute, corps members teach summer school for four of five weeks and help their students master critical content for the fall. Corps members teach summer school students for an average of two hours each day and are observed by experienced teachers. For one of the two hours, they lead a class to master academic content, and build their own skills in delivering lessons and managing a classroom. For the other hour, most corps members work with four to five students to build skills in math and reading and gain experience in leading small group instruction. (

Current Ohio Law:
A minimum of twelve weeks of full-time student teaching [7.5-hour days] and a minimum of one-hundred clock hours of field experiences prior to student teaching. (

Ohio State University Master of Education Program:
The Master of Education (M.Ed.) program in the Department of Teaching and Learning leads to a post-baccalaureate degree designed for those individuals who seek to earn their initial four-year Ohio license while completing graduate studies and research in their chosen field of study. All M.Ed. programs at The Ohio State University are fully accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and our programs have been consistently ranked among the top premiere programs in the United States.  M.Ed. students are placed for field experiences (observation, participation, internship) in schools in fall and spring semesters for increasingly richer experiences. These placements collectively provide 700 clock hours in the schools spread over 150 days (of the typical 180-day school calendar). The placements are in schools in Franklin County with each student experiencing urban and suburban school classrooms. (

Admission Criteria

Teach for America:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • 2.50 Minimum Cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale)
  • US Citizenship or National/Permanent Resident Status
  • On the application you’ll be asked to complete three short-answer questions about why you want to join Teach For America and other topics.
  • On your resume, you should highlight your academic and professional achievements and leadership experience. Academic achievement includes your cumulative GPA, participation in honors programs, inclusion in dean’s lists, or other notable awards. Leadership can be displayed through a variety of experiences including extracurricular activities, work experience, managing teams, and more.
  • Phone/online interview
  • Full day interview

Ohio State University Master of Education Program:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Minimum 3.0 overall GPA (on a 4.0 scale) (Students with an overall GPA less than a 3.0 MUST take the General Test of Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to be eligible for admission to the MEd Otherwise, the GRE is not required for admission.; In addition to a 3.0 overall GPA, most Licensure Areas require a certain GPA in their content or prerequisite courses.
  • Experience working with youth in various group settings
  • English Proficiency Test Score Requirements (International Applicants only): 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL, 79 on the Internet-Based TOEFL, 82 on the MELAB, or 7 on IELTS. This is not a requirement for applicants who have or will have a bachelor’s or higher degree from a country where English is the native language.
  • Statement of Intent: Must be typed, double-spaced, and no longer than 4 pages. Statement should include:  Intended Licensure Area and if applicable, Specialization(s), Semester/Year of Intended Enrollment; Discuss and reflect on experiences you had with children/adolescents and what you learned from these; What contributions do you want to make as a teacher?; Discuss a current issue in education that is important to you.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Three letters are required; at least one academic and another from experiences working with children or adolescents in a learning environment.
  • Resume: Must be typed and no longer than 2 pages. Resume needs to include:  Academic Background (major, minor); Academic Accomplishments (scholarships, fellowships, awards, etc.); Relevant Experiences with children/adolescents; Other Involvement, Service, Work experiences

A look at only the admission requirements and the teacher preparation processes already reveals that Ohio’s are more rigorous than those required by the Teach for America, Inc. program, but there’s even more to consider.

If Republican legislators truly believe that the Teach For America, Inc. program creates teachers who are more effective, then why would they limit its influence to so few students and only allow placement in urban areas (per TFA, Inc.)?

If Republican legislators truly believe that this is in the best interest of students in the state of Ohio, then shouldn’t they just make this the standard process for teacher preparation?

They can start by eliminating OAC 3301-24-03.C.6. which states:

(C) A college or university which seeks state board of education approval to prepare teachers shall request approval to offer a program leading to a specific type of license as designated in rule 3301-24-05 of the Administrative Code. Approval by the state board of education shall be based on evidence of coursework and experiences designed to include the following:


(6) A minimum of twelve weeks of full-time student teaching and a minimum of one-hundred clock hours of field experiences prior to student teaching.

While Teach For America, Inc. only requires 50 hours of cooperative teaching during a summer school program, Ohio state law requires that prospective teachers complete a minimum of 460 hours of field experience, including 12 weeks of student teaching, with typically 6 of those weeks being full days of independent instruction, under the supervision of a university professor(s).

Consider that these university programs come at a huge price to both students and universities, and if they produce less effective educators, then Ohio’s Republican legislators need to propose that we eliminate this requirement statewide. Such a change would accelerate the process for all future educators to get into the classroom in all schools, not just a select few in the urban areas. Would we ever expand this program into wealthy Columbus suburbs like Upper Arlington, Westerville, Olentangy, and Dublin? If our legislators truly want what is best for our students, and if they believe that means teachers with less practice in the actual teaching of students means better results, then they need to move this idea forward.

Don’t hold your breath…

Back in 2011, the sponsor of the TFA legislation, Senator Cates, in an email response to us stated:

“Research has shown that TFA has a proven record of success in teaching students in hard-to-staff urban and rural schools. Researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted a study of teacher impact of TFA versus UNC graduates of its own teacher preparation system. Researchers found that TFA teachers had a larger impact in high school math, science and English and UNC grads. The state of Tennessee studied all 42 teacher preparation programs in the state. They found that TFA members outperformed the average new teacher across all subject areas and grade levels making TFA the top performing new teacher preparation program in the state.”

It was wonderful that the Senator referenced research studies in his response. He mentioned that TFA, Inc. members were found to have outperformed their University of North Carolina counterparts. Of course, since he did not cite the report, we were unable to specifically address the reporting methods and data sets used. So, giving Senator Cates the benefit of the doubt, let’s look at why North Carolina might have reported success with Teach for America, Inc. corps members and examine whether or not it changes the fact that we should not welcome Teach for America, Inc.’s lower-standard program into Ohio.

Since North Carolina was the Senator’s state of choice, let’s compare North Carolina’s and Ohio’s Teacher Preparation programs.

Consider the following information from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). “NCATE is the profession’s mechanism to help establish high quality teacher preparation. Through the process of professional accreditation of schools, colleges and departments of education, NCATE works to make a difference in the quality of teaching and teacher preparation today, tomorrow, and for the next century. NCATE’s performance-based system of accreditation fosters competent classroom teachers and other educators who work to improve the education of all P-12 students. NCATE believes every student deserves a caring, competent, and highly qualified teacher. The accreditation covers all educator preparation programs. (”

North Carolina has 42 accredited institutions.
Ohio has 39 accredited institutions.

Listed below are the number of institutions that have Nationally Recognized Programs in the specified content areas:
English (As recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English)
North Carolina – 0
Ohio – 28

Foreign Language (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
North Carolina – 0
Ohio – 19

Math (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
North Carolina – 1
Ohio – 31

Science (National Science Teachers Association)
North Carolina – 0
Ohio – 28

Social Studies (National Council for the Social Studies)
North Carolina – 1
Ohio – 33

Despite having more accredited institutions overall, North Carolina’s subject-specific teacher preparation programs fall short of Ohio’s high standards. In these five areas alone that cover the majority of secondary education programs at Institutions of Higher Education, Ohio has received National Recognition for 139 programs while North Carolina has been recognized for 2. Why would Ohio use North Carolina’s teacher preparation programs as a benchmark? Ohio’s universities already produce high quality educators, demonstrating no need for a decrease in standards as are being brought to Ohio by Teach for America, Inc.

Now consider some statistics from the United States Department of Education (The Secretary’s Seventh Annual Report on Teacher Quality: A Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom):

Number of individuals completing Traditional Route programs
North Carolina: 3,909
Ohio: 8,154

Number of individuals completing Alternative Route programs
North Carolina: 749
Ohio: 547

Total number of individuals completing programs
North Carolina: 4,658
Ohio: 8,701

  • North Carolina has fewer than half as many individuals completing traditional programs than Ohio does, yet over 200 more individuals completing alternative route programs. 

Number of tests given for teacher certification
North Carolina: 21
Ohio: 42

  • Ohio has implemented twice as many post-education teacher exams to ensure program fidelity across the state and ensure that teachers are properly prepared in their respective specialty areas.

Percentage of teachers certified who were trained in another state
North Carolina: Greater than 40%
Ohio: Less than 10%

Collectively, these numbers demonstrate the lack of quality teacher preparation programs in North Carolina and demonstrate the state’s desperate need to try and attract teachers from elsewhere (i.e., Teach for America, Inc.). By contrast, Ohio is self-sufficient in preparing and retaining high quality teachers and is a place where other states recruit to fill their teaching vacancies.

And finally, what is the effect of all of this on the performance of students? How do students fare after their many years of learning in their respective states?


North Carolina appears to favor the SAT test, while Ohio appears to favor the ACT. Both states have data on each test.

SAT (score out of 2400)

  • North Carolina had a participation rate of 71% and an average composite score of 1485 and ranked 39th nationally.
  • Ohio had a participation rate of 27% and an average composite score of 1608 and ranked 22nd nationally. (

An argument in defense of North Carolina would likely be that they have nearly all of their students participate in the SAT and therefore have numbers that represent all students, whereas the Ohio students most likely represent the top-tier of students, those who are taking both SAT and ACT to widen their college options. All this would prove is that Ohio’s top students achieved higher scores than North Carolina’s average students. A fair point, so let’s look for the opposite effect in the ACT results.

ACT (score out of 36)

  • North Carolina had a participation rate of 16% and an average composite score of 21.9, ranking 21st nationally.
  • Ohio had a participation rate of 66% and an average composite score of 21.8, ranking 24th nationally. (

Where’s the expected opposite effect? Unlike the SAT results, when North Carolina’s best and brightest students were compared to Ohio’s average students, there was little discernible difference in the ACT results. North Carolina’s best students are Ohio’s average students.

As for Senator Cates’ reference to Tennessee’s results? Tennessee reported 100% participation on the ACT and ranked 47th nationwide with average composite score of 19.6.


NOTE: Under Teach for America’s section for “Support” on their website, they highlight a key piece of their program:

Career Support

Corps members can download resources for exploring different career paths and connect with alumni to investigate professional opportunities after the corps. [After their two-year commitment is over.]

They don’t even pretend to be in it for the long haul…

At a time when education in Ohio is under intense scrutiny, why would Ohio’s Republican legislators be seeking to LOWER the standards for becoming a teacher?




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  • dt418

    How about asking: if OH is only graduating 80% of its students, with huge percentages graduating unprepared to go to college or enter the workforce, what else – in addition to attracting young talented and driven leaders into Ohio’s classrooms via TFA – could the State be doing to increase academic performance and close huge achievement gaps between wealthier white and less advantaged often minority students. This analysis is laughable.

  • Katietoo

    Thank you so much for highlighting some of the erroneous notions in education today. We are headed down a dark path if we can’t stop the DEformers who are trying to privatize education. Teach For Awhile is bad for kids, bad for Ohio and bad for our country’s public schools.

  • I once looked into working for them but felt uneasy about the program. Since then, articles like this confirm my suspicions.

  • gregmild
  • dt418

    FAIL…TFA’s retention rates are as good or better than traditional teacher prep programs, and are particularly higher in the low income, very urban and rural, very underperforming schools where TFA places teachers. TFA is in no way shape or form trying to privatize education. Totally canned line.

  • gregmild

    And regarding TFA’a highly-publicized study by Mathematica:

    “The Mathematica study, using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, found that there were statistically insignificant differences in reading achievement for students in the TFA and control classrooms. In math, students in the TFA classrooms faired slightly better—equal to one month’s extra teaching. The Mathematica study also found, however, that TFA teachers “had no substantial impact on the probability that students were retained in grade or assigned to summer school.”

    “A closer look at the math and reading results shows that neither the TFA group nor the control group was even beginning to close the achievement gap. In math, the TFA teachers bumped their student math scores from the 14th to the 17th percentile. The control group stayed flat at the 15th percentile. In reading, both the TFA and control group teachers marginally raised reading scores, from the 13th to the 14th percentile for the control group, and from the 14th to the 15th percentile for the TFA recruits. This, as Center for Teaching Quality head Barnett Berry notes, “is essentially virtually no gain at all. These [TFA] students were still reading more poorly than 85 percent of their peers nationwide, and well below grade level.” Teach for America boasts about its impact, noting on its webpage: “[O]ur corps members and alumni work relentlessly to increase academic achievement.” Yet in a study touted by TFA, the students of corps teachers remained far below their national peers and made only marginal gains.”

    — Barbara Miner (

  • dt418

    Also, while Ohio State’s Teacher Prep Program is undoubtedly high quality, its worth mentioning that many ed. degree programs both undergrad and grad alike require less rigorous academic standards for entry than is required by college athletes to remain academically eligible.

    Regardless of the minimum GPA requirement that TFA quotes, TFA is consistently ranked as one of the most competitive programs to get into in the entire nation, alongside McKinsey Consulting, and other top private sector corporations.

    Until TFA the following statement – which is true – would have seemed unfathomable: “This year [2010], on its 20th anniversary, Teach for America hired more seniors than any other employer at numerous colleges, including Yale, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgetown and theUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Harvard, 293 seniors, or 18 percent of the class, applied, compared with 100 seniors in 2007.”

  • gregmild

    Awesome. Send them to North Carolina…

  • dt418

    So your saying that teachers with zero experience, show up, with little to no training, and do just as good, if not better than the so called “career” teachers that you all so deeply wish to protect…how does that make any sense whatsoever???

  • dt418

    And the far below their national peers thing…how many traditional teachers sign up to teach in the most underperforming, lowest paying, most challenging schools? Answer: Very few. TFA is not a silver bullet, and does not claim to be.

  • dt418

    Teachers choose to allow themselves to be demonized every time the teachers’ unions choose to advocate for policies that put adults’ interests before students’ interests. Explain to me how granting lifetime tenure to teachers supports or is any way correlated to improved student academic performance?

  • dt418

    Anyone working this hard to protect the status quo is either in outright denial of how terribly our public education is failing our most disadvantaged youth, or is so uniquely focused on their own adult interests that they are unable to factor in the needs of our nation’s students into a conversation that is supposed to be focused on the quality of our public schools. Either way, this is problematic.

  • dt418

    Haha! This is hilarious. Thank you for sharing this. Is this associated with The Onion? Cause I’m pretty sure that no one is taking this seriously…well, except your friends in the rubber rooms you’re working so hard to preserve.

  • dt418

    Also, does anyone else see the irony in the banner advertisement at the top of this article…to get your teaching degree via an online degree program…hilarious…

  • anastasjoy

    You just ripped the veil off your motivation, dt418. You talked about “canned lines” above. There is no more “canned line” than the one about how teachers union (i.e. teachers) “put adults’ interests before students.” This canard was even used by the execrable Michelle Rhee as the name of her sleazy group “Students First.” In fact, teachers demonstrate that they often care more about students than any other adults out there, certainly more than the deformers trying to rip public schools to shreds. They are the ones that put themselves on the line, frequently working 12-hour days to help a struggling student, talk to a parent, agonize over how to tweak a lesson plan so that kids grasp the material. And if you so passionate (and wrongly) believe that the teachers created by traditional programs are crap, then are you also advocating that the amateurs produced by TFA should be in every school, including the top performing districts whose teachers are usually the highly trained ones that have come through these professional programs you disdain? I’ll bet the parents of these bright kids in TFA would storm their local board of ed if it was suggested that TFA teacher’s younger siblings should be taught by TFAs. It’s only “good enough” for poor kids. But you have outed the real reason for these spurious attacks on teachers: it’s all about attacks on unions ad impoverishing teachers, making it an increasingly undesirable profession unable to attract talented people.

  • dmoore2222

    Is there any data on longevity of TFA members? In other words, do they stay in the profession? We know that 65% of Ohio’s traditionally trained teachers leave the profession within the first five years. because It’s tough work no matter where you teach. Sure, there are hotshots who come in with a trainload of energy and enthusiasm. But can they sustain that over a long period of time? Having high qualifications is one thing but long term commitment is just as important. The Ohio charter school teacher employment revolving door, and resulting abysmally low performance, is indicative of this republican quick fix obsession. Add to that the naked profiteering on the part of the David Brennans of the world.

  • gregmild

    You’ve missed the very specific point of this post. Maybe there are places around the country that have a shortage of teachers and need TFA to recruit people to come to those areas. Ohio is not in that position.

  • dgodon

    Since when is lowering the bar to almost nothing to teach in the interests of low income children?

  • dgodon

    That’s mean to wish that on NC. They should be strengthening their teacher ed programs, not exacerbating the churn of ill-trained novices.

  • wetsu


    TFA alum are we?

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