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Does Teach For America's Summer Institute Really Prepare Teachers for the Classroom?

Institute guru Susan Asiyanbi responds to some of the common critiques of the intensive process.


Over the next few weeks, 5,200 new Teach For America members will become first-year teachers in some of this nation’s most challenging school settings. In lieu of a traditional, year-long teacher preparation program, they just spent five weeks attending one of the organization's eight summer training institutes. That short time span makes the institute an intense experience, and critics say it can’t truly prepare corps members to teach.

The institutes are overseen by Susan Asiyanbi, Teach For America’s executive vice president for teacher preparation, support and development, who draws on her personal experience growing up on the South Side of Chicago and working as a corps member in Newark, New Jersey, as well her Kellogg M.B.A. We caught up with her to find out what the organization is doing to improve its training program, and got some answers to some of the common critiques of the process.

GOOD: What does a typical day at the institute look like for a corps member?

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Results at Arne Duncan's First Chicago Turnaround School Raise Efficacy and Legal Questions

Arne Duncan believes in "turnaround" schools, but are they effective, and are they legal?

Does Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's "turnaround" school-reform model work? News from one of Duncan's first turnaround schools, William T. Sherman Elementary in Chicago, is mixed. Yes, test scores are up, and that's a good thing for the 591-student elementary in the city's violence-plagued Englewood neighborhood. The bad news? It took five years to see results, and the scores still aren't as high as the average Chicago public school.

Duncan ordered a turnaround plan for Sherman back in 2006 when he was still Chicago's superintendent of schools. Sherman was the first campus placed under the jurisdiction of what was at the time a new non-profit turnaround organization, the Academy for Urban School Leadership. As an AUSL turnaround school, Sherman gave students renovated facilities, a new curriculum, and an entirely new staff—new principals, new teachers, even new custodians.

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