Teach For America is a community of changemakers and coalition-builders. Leaders who teach, and teachers who lead. From classrooms to districts to statehouses across America, we’re reimagining education to realize the day when every child has an equal opportunity to learn, grow, influence, and lead.
Teach For America’s Impact
Teach For America has a 30-year track record of advancing educational excellence and equity in the United States through our network of remarkable and diverse leaders working to expand opportunity and access for all children. With nearly 64,000 alumni and corps members in over 50 regions around the country, our network now includes more than 15,200 alumni teachers, 1,411 school leaders; more than 539 school system leaders; over 1,010 policy and advocacy leaders; nearly 300 elected leaders; and more than 260 social entrepreneurs. And while only one in five Teach For America corps members had plans to teach before applying to TFA, four out of five alumni now work in education or careers serving low-income communities.
“Looking back, we know that this was never just about two years. From wherever we are, we fight for an uncompromising belief in every child, because we've seen their potential come alive in our classrooms.”
Achieving Student Progress
Teach For America is one of the largest and most studied teacher-preparation and educational-leadership development organizations in the country. In 2016, What Works Clearinghouse published a review of seven independent research studies on the effectiveness of TFA corps members. This review—which looked at more than 65,000 students across multiple states—concluded that TFA corps members have positive effects on student outcomes, especially in math and science.
A Leading Teacher Preparation Pathway
State-wide studies of the relative effectiveness of teacher education programs—in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee—consistently place Teach For America at or near the top in terms of participants’ effects on student academic outcomes. Over the years more than 1,000 Teach For America alumni and corps members have been named Teacher of the Year in their states, districts and schools.
Driving Student Outcomes
A “gold standard” study commissioned from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015 found that students of Teach For America teachers learned 2.6 months more mathematics in a year than students in the same schools taught by teachers from traditional preparation programs or less selective alternative route programs. The study also found that 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.
Nurturing Student Investment
Corps members work to build relationships with students and engage and invest their families. According to a 2015 study published by the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, students taught by TFA teachers in elementary and middle school were less likely to miss school because of unexcused absences and suspensions than students taught by non-TFA teachers in the same school.
Principals agree that corps members contribute to a positive, collaborative professional culture
Principals reported corps members build strong relationships within their school community
Fueling an Exceptional, Diverse Talent Pipeline
Our leadership pipeline is helping schools fill critical, hard-to-staff roles, including more than 2,000 STEM teachers and more than 1,000 special education teachers in 2017. In addition to being the largest source of educators serving schools in low-income communities, Teach For America is the talent pipeline that most closely reflects the demographics of children attending public schools. Half of our corps members identify as people of color, half come from a low-income background, and one-third are first generation college graduates.
Through their experience, Teach For America corps members come to identify with their students. According to a recent study, Teach For America alumni, throughout their years of service, gain a greater understanding of how societal injustices like educational inequity harm disadvantaged and low-income communities, and they display less class- and race-based resentment than peers who did not join the corps.
Pioneering and Strengthening Schools
Teach For America alumni have blazed new paths as founders of YES Prep, KIPP, IDEA Public Schools, Rocketship, and Citizens of the World Charter Schools, to name a few. Today 3,700 Teach For America alumni are principals, assistant principals, and deans leading schools across the country. They are running high performing schools, helping turn around low-performing schools, launching new schools, growing existing networks, and some are working to reimagine school entirely.
A recent analysis of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) student growth data gives a window into the impact of TFA alumni school leaders. It shows that charter management organizations with TFA alum school leaders achieved 84 additional days of learning in reading and 52 additional days of learning in math beyond what students’ prior test scores would predict.
“I saw the seemingly insurmountable obstacles for kids growing up in poverty and decided to commit my life to breaking down those obstacles.”Matt WestmorelandTFA AlumMetro Atlanta 2010
Powering Innovation in Education
Hundreds of Teach For America alumni are founding and leading social ventures with children and families at the center, fueling change in classrooms, schools, and beyond.
A 2011 study by researchers from Harvard Graduate School of Education and the American Enterprise Institute concluded that more founders and top leaders of entrepreneurial education organizations started their careers with Teach For America than anywhere else.
In the last five years alone, 42 TFA alumni have been named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
Some of our past Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Social Innovation Award winners include:
Metro Atlanta '00
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
T. Morgan Dixon (Metro Atlanta '00) is the co-founder and director of GirlTrek, a national movement to activate one million Black women to be change makers in their lives and communities—by walking in their neighborhoods.
New York '06
Executive Director & Co-Founder
School Justice Project
Claire Blumenson is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of School Justice Project (SJP), a DC-based nonprofit organization providing special education legal services to older court-involved students with disabilities.
Greater Chicago–Northwest Indiana '09
Education in Sight
Education in Sight’s co-founder George Dong (Chicago ’09) says that spending time in rural China opened his eyes to the fact that rural and underserved students also suffer from uncorrected vision problems that drastically affect their learning outcomes.
System Leaders Driving Systemic Change
Today, four out of five alumni work full time in education or careers that impact low-income communities. Among them are 539 school systems leaders, leading districts, state departments, and state boards of education, working together and alongside many others to create to produce better outcomes for more children.
Teach For America alumni are state superintendents of education in the District of Columbia, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and, formerly, Tennessee.
Driving Progress with Communities
Communities across the country are making meaningful progress in educational outcomes, and TFA alumni and corps members are playing an essential role, working alongside many others. Here are just a few examples.
Chicago is the second-fastest improving city for student outcomes according to the National Assessment for Academic Progress (“NAEP”). In 2020, Chicago Public Schools’ five-year graduation rate hit a record high of 83%, up from 61% in 2011. The college graduation rate for Chicago Public School alumni has doubled over the past ten years, and the average ACT score continues to grow.
Teach For America’s 3,000 corps members and alumni are helping drive this upward trajectory for Chicago’s 350,000 students. Here’s our contribution to progress:
- Over 30% of Chicago students are taught by a Teach For America corps member or in a school led by a TFA alum.
- On average, over 1,000 corps members and alumni teachers lead their students to 1.5 years of academic growth in a school year.
- Over 240 alumni are leading 10% of Chicago’s public schools as principals, assistant principals and deans; 43% of our principals lead Level 1+ schools, the highest rating in the network.
- Alumni are serving students outside of school buildings, too: 25 alumni are leaders of school systems and high impact organizations that support schools, students and families.
In 2005, Tennessee ranked in the bottom fifteen states for fourth-grade math. In 2010, the state was one of two to win the first federal “Race to the Top” innovation grant. Today, Tennessee has been one of the fastest improving states since 2011 according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Teach For America’s force of 1,000 leaders across Nashville has played an essential role in fueling change across the state:
- In 2017, the State Board of Education report card showed that Teach For America Nashville-Chattanooga corps members lead the city in student achievement growth in elementary, middle school, and special education placements.
- In the 2016-17 school year, Teach For America alumni principals led 72% of the top-performing non-selective public middle and high schools in Nashville.
- Teach For America is the only teacher preparation program in Tennessee to receive the highest rating in all categories by the state board of education, and year over year is named among the most effective sources of new teachers. In 2017, Teach For America Nashville-Chattanooga was rated the #1 overall program in the state.
- Alumni are also advocating for students at the policy level: 4 alumni are part of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education; 16 alumni work in the Department of Education; one alumnus served as state commissioner for education between 2011 and 2015, and led Tennessee to dramatic growth in student outcomes.
New Orleans, Louisiana
In 2005, the city-wide graduation rate in New Orleans was 54% and there was a 23% gap in proficiency levels between students in New Orleans and all students across the state of Louisiana. Today, the city-wide graduation rate has climbed to 76% and the proficiency gap has virtually been closed.
Teach For America has been part of the Greater New Orleans community since 1990. Our network of alumni and corps members worked closely with state and local leaders in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to reimagine a school system as a place for innovation and adaptation in order to confront persistent challenges and increase every child’s access to a great education. Today more than 1,100 alumni live and work in the city, and 80% of them work in education or with low-income communities.
- More than 50 TFA alumni serve in school and school systems leadership positions, including the Louisiana state superintendent of education and a member of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- Alumni and corps members comprise 20% of all teachers in New Orleans, and our network of teachers and school leaders impacts 80% of the city's students.
Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Since 2001, the high school graduation rate of children growing up in the Rio Grande Valley has climbed from 78% to 92%. Student outcomes continue to rise and more and more children have access to academic opportunities such as advanced placement courses. In the last 10 years, AP/Dual Credit course completion has grown from 23% to 43%, and the percentage of students in the Rio Grande Valley who enroll into higher education after high school has increased from 49% to 60%.
Teach For America placed its first corps of teachers in the Rio Grande Valley in 1991, and has become an integral part of the community’s effort to expand educational opportunity for children there. Around 260 alumni and corps members live and work in the Rio Grande Valley, and over 85% of our alumni work directly in education, more than half as K-12 teachers.
- Numerous TFA alums work at the Texas Education Agency, supporting all schools and districts across the state, including the Deputy Commissioner of Education, who taught in the Rio Grande Valley as a corps member.
- IDEA Public Schools was founded by two TFA alumni in 2000 and has grown to a network of 79 schools (39 in the Rio Grande Valley) serving 27,000 students.