For the past six years at Holmes Elementary, Teach For America corps members have been teaching in each grade level from first through fifth. Two years ago, we analyzed our data and discovered that students who had corps members as teachers for multiple years significantly outperformed their peers on the FCAT reading exam. While the average passing rate for fifth graders at the school was 26 percent, the passing rate for fifth graders who had corps members as teachers for four years was 83 percent, and 72 percent for those who had corps members as teachers for three years.
The faculty and administration at Holmes Elementary, as well as the parents and the students themselves, were proud of these results and their students' work. Based on these findings, we recognize the amplified positive impact our corps members as a group can have on school culture, teacher and principal satisfaction, and, most importantly, student achievement. Looking ahead, we are working to cluster multiple corps members at single school sites throughout the region so that many more Miami-Dade students will achieve the same level of success as their peers at Holmes.
In the early 2000s, the warehouse neighborhood just north of Midtown Miami began to come to life. Interior designers moved in, followed by retailers and restaurants, and The Design District was born. Despite the presence of high-end establishments and an influx of luxury condominiums, the neighborhood remains an interesting socioeconomic and ethnic mix, and affordable apartments can be found in close proximity to all the area has to offer.
The nearby Wynwood Arts District is the center of Miami's art scene in the midst of what was formerly a Puerto Rican neighborhood. Like the Design District, the community in Wynwood continues to be quite diverse, and the Puerto Rican influence persists. These centrally-located Midtown neighborhoods offer corps members an excellent home base from which to commute to their schools and explore their new city. Teach For America's Miami-Dade office is also located in Midtown.
In order to be eligible to teach in Florida, corps members are required to pass a Subject Area Test and a General Knowledge Test prior to the start of the school year. Upon successful completion and passing of both exams, our teachers can obtain a temporary certificate that is valid for three years. While it is not required for corps members to receive standard professional certification, those who wish to be certified are required to take the Professional Knowledge Test and complete a certification program. Miami-Dade corps members have the option to participate in the Alternative Professional Preparation Program (AP3), which is a free certification program offered through the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system. Corps members also have access to the University of Miami for a master's in Education and Social Change, which was specifically created with our teachers in mind.