A wide variety of leaders in education, politics, and business agree that Teach For America (TFA) is a successful program in its efforts to help close the nation's achievement gap because of both its inventive model and, most importantly, its results. But last issue's Features article, "Teach For America divides educators," unfortunately created more of a controversy surrounding the AmeriCorps program than what actually exists by basing its reporting on a select few opinions and anecdotes.

Department of Education Chair Mary Lu Gallaudet's assertion regarding what is best for these "very needy students" is narrow minded in thinking that only career teachers can create widespread change. It is easy to say the world would be better off if everyone had 10 more years of training in their field. As a first-year corps member in New Haven, Connecticut, I do not have 10 years experience teaching, but according to the Developmental Reading Assessment, my students had advanced almost a year's worth on average from September to January.

Corps members across New Haven and TFA's other 25 sites are producing significant academic gains, and such cases of achievement are not isolated. An independent study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. found that students of corps members make more progress in reading and math than would typically be expected in a year.

Similarly, a study by Kane Parsons and Associates showed that three out of four principals say TFA corps members' training is better than that of other beginning teachers and 74 percent of principals considered corps members more effective than other beginning teachers with whom they've worked. That is largely because both TFA summer institute and the program's ongoing professional development train corps members to use new, innovative strategies to engage students in low-income environment classrooms?despite Assistant Professor Doris Santoro Gomez's false claim that corps members teach simply from their own previous knowledge.

The article also failed to highlight TFA's force of alumni leaders, 60 percent of whom continue to work from within education to close the achievement gap and thousands more who are working from other professional sectors to take the pressure off of schools by improving the quality of health and social services for disadvantaged children.

Just look at the successful public charter schools that are making leaps and bounds in education reform and it will become clear that closing the achievement gap will take more than teachers trained in traditional schools of education. A great example of this is the Achievement First public charter school in which I was placed, where the principal and a great number of faculty members are TFA alumni. The school has one seat for every seven applicants to its blind lottery, enrolls a student body of which more than three-quarters qualify for free or reduced lunch, and is testing at levels comparable to schools in Connecticut's most affluent suburbs?all while leading the way in character education.

Other Achievement First and KIPP public charter schools are proving that students in low-income communities can achieve at suburban levels and beyond on a widespread scale; such successes would not be possible without the pool of talented and energized corps members and alumni TFA has propelled forward.

So, let's stick to the facts. TFA has worked to positively impact the lives of more than 2.5 million children. Instead of focusing on a select few professors' traditional perspectives on the program model, look at what it has accomplished in an effort to unite America by promoting equality of opportunity.

With just 15 percent of disadvantaged eighth graders in America proficient in reading, the nation's achievement gap is too critical of an issue to examine without looking at statistics, alternatives, and observing what is working and why.

Kohn is a member of the Class of 2006. He is a Teach for America corps member at Elm City College Preparatory School in New Haven, Connecticut.