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impact research

With more than 30 years in operation, Teach For America has had a positive impact on students, corps members, alumni, and communities. Learn more about what research has found our impact to be.

Our Impact on Students

Students of Teach For America corps members achieve at levels equal to or sometimes greater than the students of non-Teach For America teachers of similar experience levels in similar schools, with the most pronounced impact in math and science. Research findings on our teachers’ instructional impact--which span multiple regions, subject areas, and grade levels--have remained consistent throughout our organization’s history, ruling out the possibility that the results are due to chance, error, or a particular statistical method.

Jai Marie Marcellin

 Recent Studies

  • How do teachers from alternative pathways contribute to the teaching workforce in urban areas? Evidence from Kansas City (An & Koedel, 2021, AERA Open)
    • Teach For America teachers in Kansas City raise test scores by 0.11 standard deviations in math and 0.03 standard deviations in ELA compared to non-TFA teachers of similar experience levels. 
  • Texas Impact: Evaluation Report for Teach For America (Wright et al., 2019, Southern Methodist University) 
    • Overall, students of TFA-affiliated teachers were as likely as or more likely to pass the STAAR assessment than students of non-TFA-affiliated teachers with similar experience levels. 
  • Teach For America and Teacher Quality: Increasing Achievement Over Time (Penner, 2019, Educational Policy
    • In North Carolina from 1999 to 2011, Teach For America teachers’ positive effects on student achievement were sustained over time, and even increased in certain subjects. Having a TFA teacher was associated with significantly higher achievement in high school social studies, as well as elementary and middle school math, and slightly higher achievement in high school English. TFA’s sustained effects on student achievement are due to a combination of factors that contribute to a trend of incremental, positive improvements over time. 
  • Impacts of the Teach For America Investing in Innovation Scale-up (Clark et al., 2017, Mathematica Policy Research)
    • In this national evaluation, Teach For America corps members teaching in elementary grades were as effective as other teachers in the same schools. Students of corps members in pre-K through second grade outperformed their peers in reading by the equivalent of an additional 1.3 months of learning. Teach For America teachers included in this study averaged less than two years of experience whereas the comparison teachers had nearly fourteen years of experience on average.

Upcoming Studies

  • Computer Science for All Evaluation 
    • The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is conducting an evaluation of the Computer Science for All program that prepares TFA teachers to advocate for and teach an inquiry-based introductory computer science course in high-need secondary schools. The study will consider effective strategies for recruiting computer science teachers of color, supports needed to advocate successfully for computer science courses, and strategies used to create equitable computer science learning environments. This study is funded by TFA’s 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. 
  • Rural School Leadership Academy Evaluation 
    • The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is conducting an evaluation of the Rural School Leadership Academy that will examine implementation fidelity, instructional leadership quality, educator retention, and student learning. This study is funded by TFA’s 2017 Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant from the US Department of Education.
  • National Impact Studies 
    • The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is conducting two impact evaluations of Teach For America in regions across the country that will examine TFA teachers’ effect on student learning as compared to that of non-TFA teachers of similar experience levels. One evaluation is funded by TFA’s 2018 Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant from the US Department of Education and the other is to fulfill TFA’s 2019-2022 national AmeriCorps grant requirements. 
  • Texas Regions Impact Study Update
    • The Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) at Southern Methodist University (SMU) is completing two related impact studies: 1) an update of the 2019 impact evaluation and 2) an evaluation of TFA CMs’ student achievement as compared to the students of non-TFA teachers, to fulfill AmeriCorps grant requirements.

Our Impact on Corps Members and Alumni

tfa one jump

Being a corps member changes you. Through their service, corps members experience an increased understanding of systemic injustice and a decrease in prejudice. While Teach For America involves a two-year commitment to teach, approximately three-fifths of our corps members teach for at least a third year, and many more stay in the education field. Among alumni, teaching is the most common profession. Other alumni strive for educational equity through leadership in other career fields, such as policy, law, and social entrepreneurship. There is no shortage of inspiring Teach For America alumni leadership stories, and more appear as our alumni base grows and matures.

Recent Studies

  • How Teaching in Underserved Schools Affects Beliefs about Education Inequality and Reform: Evidence from Teach For America (Conn, Lovison, & Mo, 2022, Public Opinion Quarterly
    • Participation in TFA causes heightened awareness of structural inequality in education over belief in individualistic explanations for poor student outcomes. TFA participation makes teachers more enthusiastic about policies and programs that expand resources and services for students. TFA participation also leads to greater optimism and faith in the potential of schools to provide all students with an excellent education.
  • Youth National Service and Women's Political Ambition: The Case of Teach For America (Mo, Conn, & Anderson-Nilsson, 2019) 
    • By exposing women to issues of systemic inequity in education and integrating them into networks that foster continued civic participation, participating in TFA causes women to be more politically ambitious. Compared to similar female applicants who were not accepted into the program, TFA alumni are, on average, 10 percentage points more likely to be interested in running for political office and 6 percentage points more likely to participate in political campaigns.  
  • When Do the Advantaged See the Disadvantages of Others? A Quasi-Experimental Study of National Service (Mo & Conn, 2018, American Political Science Review)
    • Participation in TFA leads corps members to experience an increase in perceptions of systemic injustice against the disadvantaged, decreases in both class-based and racial resentment, and a decrease in prejudice. 

Upcoming Studies

  • Teach For America Pre-Service Study 
    • AIR is conducting a formative evaluation on the implementation of TFA’s approach to embedding Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in recruitment, selection, and preservice training. The evaluation will have an emphasis on the new programmatic features, the participant experience, and implementation fidelity. This study is funded by TFA’s 2020 Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant from the US Department of Education.

Our Impact on Diversifying the field of Teacher Education

krystal hardy talks to a student

We at Teach For America believe that diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Research shows that a teacher workforce which reflects the racial and socio-economic background of the nation’s children is crucial to improving student outcomes. We are committed to growing the number of our corps members who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color, and developing leaders who share the background of the students that we serve.

Recent Data

Upcoming Studies

  • Study of Same-Race Teachers & Student Learning  
    • The Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) at Southern Methodist University (SMU) is engaged in a new study analyzing the impact of same-race teacher-student matches on student outcomes, generally, and for TFA teachers specifically.
Two-Year Commitment. Lifelong Impact.