The study was conducted in 36 schools in 13 TFA placement partners in 10 TFA regions in 10 states. The 13 placement partners included 11 traditional public school districts, one charter school district, and one community-based organization that manages an early childhood education program.
Among the students, 47% were female, 7% had an individualized education plan, 34% were limited English proficient, and 84% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The racial/ethnic demographics were as follows: 47% were Black; 42% were Hispanic; 7% were White, 3% were another race, 2% were Asian.
Students were taught by TFA teachers. All but one of the TFA teachers were in their first or second year of teaching. The mean years of teaching experience was 1.7, and 76% of TFA teachers had a bachelor’s degree from a most, highly, or very competitive college or university. Among majors, 20% of TFA teachers majored in early childhood or elementary education, and 84% majored in a field unrelated to education. The mean age of TFA teachers at the time of the study was 24.4 years, and 90% of TFA teachers were female, 70% were White, 12% were Black, 12% were Asian, and 7% were Hispanic. The study assessed the effectiveness of TFA teachers during the second year of a TFA expansion effort, partially funded by a 5-year Investing in Innovation (i3) scale-up grant from the U.S.
Department of Education. TFA increased its recruitment among less selective colleges, Historically
Black Colleges and Universities, and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; however, the study authors found no evidence of a change in the program’s academic selection standards, as measured by undergraduate grade point average and SAT score. The authors found few substantive changes to TFA training and support under the scale-up. However, the authors noted declines in corps members’ satisfaction with the program.
Students in the comparison group were taught by teachers who did not enter teaching through TFA. The majority (85%) of comparison teachers were traditionally certified teachers (that is, they completed all certification requirements through a traditional university-based program prior to beginning teaching), with the remainder being alternatively certified (that is, they began teaching prior to completing all certification requirements). The mean years of teaching experience was 13.7. Among comparison teachers, 40% had a bachelor’s degree from a most, highly, or very competitive college or university; 81% majored in early childhood or elementary education, and 26% majored in a field unrelated to education. The mean age of comparison teachers at the time of the study was 42.8 years, and 99% of comparison teachers were female, 55% were White, 34% were Black, 11% were Hispanic, and 3% were Asian.
Support for implementation
Training provided to TFA participants prior to their becoming classroom teachers involves a 5-week summer institute that includes group instruction on curriculum, literacy, and diversity; supervised teaching; observations of other teachers; feedback from advisors; small-group sessions on teaching practice, and lesson-planning clinics. During their 2-year commitment, TFA staff provide ongoing training and support that includes one-on-one coaching, grade/subject-specific group meetings, and access to online classroom resources and assessments. As noted above, the authors found few substantive changes to TFA training and support under the scale-up.