The Effects Teach for America Has on Student Achievement
Professor Gene Burns
Teach For America (TFA) is a national, nonprofit organization that recruits recent
college graduates, from the top colleges and universities in the United States, as well as
experienced professionals from the U.S. workforce to commit to two years of teaching in low-
income urban and rural public schools across the United States. TFA’s mission is “growing
the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent
education.” The program does not require traditional teacher preparation to become a teacher.
TFA engages in a thorough corps member selection process. Once selected, TFA recruits participate in a five-week summer training prior to beginning their two-year teaching assignment and TFA corps members often obtain certification through alternative means such as a local certification programs. The TFA model proposes to provide high quality teachers to the most high-need schools that would otherwise not be staffed with teachers of comparable quality. TFA corps members’ instructional and pedagogical philosophies and practices, classroom management skills, attitudes towards teaching, and academic ability are hypothesized to have a positive and meaningful effect on students’ academic achievement relative to what a student would have experienced had the TFA corps member not been placed in the classroom. In addition to summer training, corps members are observed at least four times a year by a mentor who then delivers coaching, instructional demonstration, and other support through discussions with the corps member based on observational data. Although this intensive support ends after corps members complete their two-year assignment, TFA alumni have access to teaching resources as well as support of the TFA community as they continue their professional careers. Since 1990, TFA has used this model...