New Research Shows More Founders of Education Organizations Participated in Teach For America Than in Any Other Organization or Program

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kerci Marcello Stroud | Teach For America
917.734.4847 | kerci.marcellostroud@teachforamerica.org

NEW YORK CITY, February 11, 2011—A study published online today in the journal Education Next finds that Teach For America is doing an impressive job of producing education entrepreneurs. Harvard education professor Monica Higgins and co-authors Frederick Hess, Jennie Weiner and Wendy Robison, conducted one of the first independent studies to look at the impact of the Teach For America experience on participants' career paths. Their findings indicate that Teach For America is making progress in its mission to build the movement for educational equity by enlisting promising future leaders in the effort.

For the new study, “Creating a Corps of Change Agents: What Explains the Success of Teach For America?,” Higgins and her co-authors compiled a list of 49 entrepreneurial education organizations, employing a methodology used in other fields. They then traced the work histories of the founders and top management team members of these organizations to identify the “originating organizations”- institutions that employed the founders of two or more of the entrepreneurial organizations.

Teach For America served as an originating organization for 15 percent of the entrepreneurial organizations. The next-greatest originating activity came equally from seven organizations: McKinsey and Company; the U.S. Department of Education; the White House Fellows program; and the Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, and Oakland public school districts. Each served as an originator for 4 percent of the entrepreneurial organizations.

“We posed the question of whether Teach For America alumni choose to engage with the education sector, and we found that they are doing so in disproportionate numbers,” says Higgins, who is also the author of Career Imprints: Creating Leaders Across an Industry. “By being even more intentional about the kinds of practical training that its corps members have, Teach For America and other talent pipelines might have an even greater influence on entrepreneurial education reform.”

“Teach For America seeks to attract individuals with real leadership ability and to foster their leadership in the classroom and beyond. This study validates that our efforts are paying off,” said Wendy Kopp, chief executive officer and founder of Teach For America. “Still, we know there is much more we can do to ensure that we are attracting, developing, and supporting individuals who will make a difference in the classroom while also gaining the insights, convictions, and mind-sets that enable them to drive the long-term, fundamental changes needed to address the root causes of educational inequity.”

Now in its 20th year, Teach For America has built an alumni force of 20,000. Two-thirds of these alumni continue to work full-time in education, including those who are founding and leading entrepreneurial education organizations. One of every three alumni remains in the classroom, and more than 550 serve as school principals or superintendents.

This new report on Teach For America alumni follows three recent studies on the impact of Teach For America corps members. In evaluations of teacher pathways in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee released over the past year, researchers found that Teach For America teachers outperformed their peers.

About Teach For America

Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. Today, more than 8,200 corps members are teaching in 39 regions across the country while 20,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.