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Inside TFA

Principals Give High Marks to Teach For America

Principals express high levels of satisfaction with Teach For America corps members and alumni, according to a new survey.

By Jessica Fregni

August 27, 2019

“The Teach For America teacher hired this academic school year is wonderful. She is willing to go above and beyond. She is passionate about educating her students. She has an open mind to try new and challenging instructional methods.” 

This is what just one public school principal had to say about working with a corps member, according to a new survey of over 1,200 principals who have Teach For America corps members at their schools.

And that principal is far from alone. 

The 2019 National Principal Survey found that principals in TFA’s partner schools continue to share outstanding feedback about corps members, alumni teachers, and the role Teach For America plays in supporting and training those teachers. 

The survey, published biannually for over 20 years, is commissioned by Teach For America and was produced this year by the independent research firm Westat. Westat conducted the 2019 National Principal survey by reaching out directly to all 2,061 principals across the country who supervised Teach For America corps members during the 2018-2019 academic school year, and over 1,200 partner principals responded. The survey asked principals about their experiences with the corps members. Principals were also asked if they had Teach For America alumni on their campuses and, if so, how satisfied they were with the contributions of alumni teachers to their schools. 

“Teach For America corps members have been instrumental in reshaping the culture of my school and ensuring that kids always come first.”

Respondent from 2019 Principal Survey

A Positive Impact on Students 

In the survey, principals were asked to rate their satisfaction with corps members’ performance in the classroom and their contributions. In response, principals shared overwhelmingly positive feedback, with 89% of respondents agreeing that corps members have a positive impact on students’ academic growth.

“Teach For America corps members lead by example and are guided by the strength of their convictions in what is possible for students,” explained one principal who responded to the survey. “They consistently go the extra mile on behalf of students and create rich professional learning communities to better serve kids. Teach For America corps members have been instrumental in reshaping the culture of my school and ensuring that kids always come first.”

In addition to affirming that corps members have a positive impact on student academic growth and personal growth, principals shared how corps members go beyond their job descriptions to make an impact at their school, from serving on school or district committees and identifying professional training opportunities to leading student groups, clubs, and organizations. 

89%

of principals agreed or strongly agreed that corps members have a positive impact on students’ academic growth.

88%

of principals indicated that they were satisfied with corps members at their schools.

“I have corps members in grade-level lead and advisory lead positions,” one principal respondent said. “I think that these teachers have brought equity issues to light and designed lessons for students to celebrate diversity and have also brought PD [professional development] topics on culturally responsive teaching to campus for staff.”

Nearly all principals surveyed agreed that corps members do deliberate work to build trusting relationships with students, parents, and community members. One principal shared: “Our corps members have proven themselves leaders in connecting our work in the classroom with the surrounding community by inviting guests into our school to share their knowledge and experiences with our students.”

High Satisfaction with TFA’s Training and Support

Summer training and ongoing coaching are the bedrock of Teach For America’s support system for corps members, helping them to engage with students and make an impact in the classroom from day one. When asked about Teach For America’s training and support, one principal said, “TFA has been highly visible and consistent in the support provided to our TFA teacher. The alignment and intentional focus of our building work and that of TFA have been extremely beneficial for the ongoing training of our TFA teacher.”

Additionally, this ongoing training and support also helps to create a strong base of experienced alumni educators. Nearly all principals surveyed expressed satisfaction with the contributions of Teach For America alumni in their schools. 

“Teach For America alums take a very active role leading the school, from their participation on leadership committees to taking the initiative to anticipate and solve problems to continuing to help the school expand and grow,” one principal shared. “They have rewritten curriculum, brought in additional funds, created new projects, instituted instructional rounds, coached new teachers, led professional learning communities, among countless other things.”

94%

of principals were satisfied with the capacity and contributions of TFA alumni in their schools.

92%

of principals indicated that they were satisfied with the training and support provided by TFA to corps members.

What’s Next

In addition to the high marks TFA alumni and corps members received, the 2019 National Principal Survey results also provides areas for further research and improvement in the future. 

TFA’s national and regional leadership uses these results to plan its corps member programming and reflect upon its approach to recruiting, training, and supporting corps members and alumni.

“As an organization, we’re committed to using data to critically examine our work and continuously improve,” said Noemi Wierwille, the senior vice president of org-wide learning and strategy at Teach For America. “Westat’s findings will help us to double down on the most successful aspects of our programming, as well as identify opportunities to refine our approach to providing ongoing training and support to our corps members and alumni teachers.”

Read the full report on Westat’s website to learn more about what principals are saying about Teach For America.