WWC review of this study

Impacts of the Teach for America Investing in Innovation scale-up.

Clark, M. A., Isenberg, E., Liu, A. Y., Makowsky, L., & Zukiewicz, M. (2015). Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research. Retrieved from http://www.mathematica-mpr.com

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    2,123
     Students
    , grades
    PK-5
No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: February 2018

English language arts achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Woodcock-Johnson III Normative Update Tests of Achievement - reading subtests and state reading assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
2,123 students

35

34

No

--
Mathematics achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Woodcock-Johnson III Normative Update Tests of Achievement and state math assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
2,065 students

31

30

No

--
Study sample characteristics were not reported.

Setting

The study sample included 10 states, 13 school districts and other Teach for America (TFA) placement partners, 36 schools, and 156 teachers (66 TFA and 90 comparison teachers). The grade levels taught by the TFA and business-as-usual teachers ranged from pre-Kindergarten to fifth grade.

Study sample

The average age for TFA teachers was 24 years old, with an average of 1.7 years of experience. In contrast, comparison teachers were 43 years old on average and had 13.6 years of experience. TFA teachers were mostly female (90%), and White and non-Hispanic (70%). Comparison teachers were also mostly female (99%) and 55% of them were White and non-Hispanic. Seventy-six percent of TFA teacher had graduated from selective colleges, whereas only 40% of comparison group had graduated from selective colleges.

Intervention Group

The sample of TFA teachers was limited to those recruited in the first two years of the scale-up, who were in their first or second year of teaching in 2012-13. There are five main components of TFA: (1) recruiting applicants to the program; (2) selecting applicants with the potential to become effective teachers and asking them to make a 2-year commitment to teaching in a high-needs school; (3) providing TFA corps members with 5 weeks of preservice training before they begin their first teaching job; (4) helping TFA corps members find jobs in high-needs schools; and (5) providing ongoing training and support throughout the 2-year commitment.

Comparison Group

Because the comparison condition was business-as-usual, it included any non-TFA teacher teaching a class in the same school at the same grade level and covering the same subjects as a participating TFA teacher. The comparison group had both new and experienced teachers and it included traditionally certified teachers and alternatively certified teachers.

Support for implementation

After partner schools and districts hire corps members, regional TFA staff provide them with ongoing training and support during their 2-year commitment. This includes one-on-one coaching support, group meetings customized by grade and subject, and access to additional classroom resources and assessments via an online portal.

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: August 2016

English language arts achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

End-of-Year Reading Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–5;
2,123 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

End-of-Year Reading Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K and K;
878 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

End-of-Year Reading Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–2;
1,653 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
5

End-of-Year Reading Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–5, teachers in their first 2 years of teaching;
313 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

End-of-Year Reading Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–5, TFA vs. traditionally certified;
1,884 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

End-of-Year Reading Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades 3–5;
470 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
Mathematics achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

End-of-Year Math Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–5;
2,065 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

End-of-Year Math Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–2;
1,653 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

End-of-Year Math Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K and K;
1,561 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

End-of-Year Math Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–5, teachers in their first 2 years of teaching;
313 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

End-of-Year Math Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades pre-K–5, TFA vs. traditionally certified;
1,836 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

End-of-Year Math Assessments

Teach for America (TFA) vs. Business as usual

1 Years

Grades 3–5;
412 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 34% English language learners

  • 84% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 47%
    Male: 53%
  • Race
    Asian
    2%
    Black
    47%
    Not specified
    3%
    White
    7%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    42%
    Not Hispanic
    58%

Setting

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.

Study sample

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.

Intervention Group

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.

Comparison Group

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.

 

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