At Teach For America, we operate with curiosity and embrace new ideas in order to learn and improve continuously. We work with corps members, alumni, and staff to gather data across all levels of our organization. We conduct internal research and evaluation with these data, as well as partner with highly regarded researchers to lead rigorous, high-quality research.
Our research interests include our organization’s impact, innovation in the broader education field, and interventions that contribute to the pursuit of educational equity and antiracism.
We take pride in being one of the most researched nonprofits in the country, and we continue to support independent research and reviews that help us gain a better understanding of our impact on students and strengthen our work and results. Learn more about Impact Research or learn more about our broader research and insights, including how we are turning insights into action.
Our Impact on Students
A large and growing body of independent, rigorous research shows that our corps members and alumni are as effective, and in many instances more effective, in promoting student achievement growth compared with classically trained teachers in the same schools.
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.
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.
Teach For America Impact Estimates on Nontested Student Outcomes (Beckes & Hansen, 2015, Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER)
In this paper, researchers found suggestive evidence that corps members had an impact on several non-tested outcomes. Students taught by corps members in elementary and middle school were less likely to miss school because of unexcused absences and suspensions than students taught by non-Teach For America teachers in the same school.
The Effectiveness of Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America
and the Teaching Fellows Programs (Clark et al., 2013, National Center For Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, U.S. Department of Education)
This study found that corps members’ students achieve 2.6 months or more additional progress in math in a given year than those taught by other teachers at the same school.
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 Schools & Communities
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 go on to push 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.
Teach for America Alumni Overrepresented in Entrepreneurial Ventures (Riddell et al., 2011, Education Next)
A study published in 2011 examined the work histories of founders and top management team members of 49 nationally prominent entrepreneurial education organizations. It concluded that more founders and top leaders started their careers with Teach For America than anywhere else.
The Impact of Voluntary Youth Service on Future Outcomes: Evidence from Teach For America (Dobie & Fryer, 2015, The B.E Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy via De Gruyter)
A 2015 study found that those who have gone through Teach For America are more likely to work in education compared to those who applied and were close to being admitted but did not complete Teach For America. It also found that Teach For America alumni were more racially tolerant and more optimistic about life prospects of low-income children.
For more information on how we are making an impact on schools and communities, explore the 2017 RAND study on school leader perspectives on induction, support, and school partnership.
Our Impact on Corps Members & Alumni
- Civilian national service programs can powerfully increase youth voter turnout (Mo, Holbein, and Elder 2022, PNAS)
- Participation in TFA has a large positive effect on rates of voter turnout among those who serve in the corps. TFA Corp Members who completed their commitment were 5.7-8.6 percentage points more likely to vote than similar applicants that did not join the corps. The effect is 3-14 times larger than standard “get out the vote” programs.
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.
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.
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.
For more information, check out this quasi-experimental study by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and Vanderbhilt University
Our Impact on Diversifying the Field of Teacher Education
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.
- 51 percent of our current corps members identify as people of color, markedly higher than the 20.7 percent of teachers nationally who identify as people of color.
- 43 percent of our current corps come from low-income backgrounds and 33 percent are the first in their family to graduate from college.
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.
Learn More About Our Impact
Learn More About Our Impact
To learn more how Teach For America has grown in scale and impact over the past three decades, check out this report from Bellwether Education Partners. You can also explore the Impact section of our website to learn more about our impact on students.
As part of our effort to learn and continuously improve, we collect extensive data and statistics internally. We also support independent research and evaluations that assess our impact, with the firm belief that a diversity of research methodologies ensures the most complete understanding of our work.
Partner With Us
Partner With Us
If you would like to partner with us to conduct research, please fill out our preliminary research inquiry form. If you have questions about research on Teach For America, please contact us.