07/08/2010 03:52 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Teach For America Growing In Popularity, But How Effective Is It?

With limited job offers in sight, college students are looking towards alternatives like Teach for America in growing numbers. Originally started in 1990 with 500 teachers, Teach for America has ballooned to include 8,200 instructors in 39 areas across the country. But contrary to popular belief, the program's highly educated participants aren't helping the education system as much as they may like to believe.

According to a new analysis reported in the Washington Post:

Studies indicate that students of novice Teach for America teachers perform significantly less well in reading and math than those of credentialed beginning teachers.

The report goes on:

...Even in the limited cases when TFA has a positive impact, it is consistently small; other educational reforms may have more promise such as universal pre-school, mentoring programs that pair novice and expert teachers, eliminating tracking, and reducing class size in the early grades.

As a result, the report proposes that local governments only support Teach for America when there exists a lack of certified teachers and invest in alternative programs that might have a more significant long-term impact.

What's your take? What do you think of Teach for America? Weigh in below.