Study Shows Teach For America Builds a Network of Leaders Who Are Positively Impacting Education in Texas

New Research Bolsters the Growing Body of Rigorous Regional and National Research

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Austin, Texas, October 31, 2016—American Institutes for Research (AIR) has published an independent study, commissioned by Teach For America, that adds to the body of research indicating that Teach For America provides an important source of education talent in Texas.  Teach For America recruits and develops leaders who make an enduring commitment to educational equity beginning with teaching for at least two years in high-need urban and rural schools. The national nonprofit organization supports a teaching corps and alumni in four Texas regions: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio.

The study reviewed teacher demographics and examined the proportion of Teach For America teachers who completed their two-year commitment, remained within their initial teaching district, stayed in teaching in Texas public schools or took on non-teaching positions in schools and districts in Texas. The results suggest that, in comparison with their peers, a greater number of Teach For America teachers remain in the classroom for two years and remain committed to serving low-income students and students of color over time. Corps members make an initial two-year commitment, but many continue to lead classrooms much longer while others go on to lead schools or districts or work from other sectors to expand educational opportunity throughout the state.

The AIR report found that Teach For America teachers:

  • Remain teaching in Texas through two years at higher rates than their peers
  • Remain teachers in their initial district at higher rates than their peers
  • When they move districts, move to districts with higher rates of economically disadvantaged students, higher rates of non-white students and higher rates of English language learners than their peers
  • Are becoming more diverse over time as a corps
  • While the percentage of Teach For America alumni teaching declines over time, a significant portion take on non-teaching or administrative roles in Texas schools and districts
  • Over time, Teach For America teachers are remaining teachers in Texas public schools at increasing rates

“For 25 years, Teach For America corps members have been leading urban and rural classrooms in Texas and experiencing firsthand the unyielding potential of their students and the barriers their students are up against, and that creates a fire in their belly to work toward a more equitable education system for the rest of their lives,” said Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard, who grew up in McAllen, Texas, served as a corps member in Phoenix, and now lives in Houston. “AIR’s research illuminates the impact of our efforts to develop great leaders who work alongside many partners in our state to give kids growing up in low-income communities an equal shot to achieve their life goals.”

Currently there are 4,000 Teach For America leaders in Texas, including 2,100 individuals leading in the classroom, 600 alumni working in school and district roles, and many others working across sectors to address systemic root causes of educational inequity. Among these alumni making a long-term impact in Texas is 2017 Texas Teacher of the Year Alison Ashley, a Teach For America alumna who has worked since 2004 as a dual-language educator in the Rio Grande Valley and Austin.

“Teach For America has been an important part of our human capital pipeline in Pharr San Juan Alamo (PSJA) ISD,” shared Dr. Daniel King, superintendent of schools for the district, which is located in the Rio Grande Valley. “Teach For America teachers are filling really tough-to-find classroom teaching positions in the areas of bilingual education, science and math, to name few, bring an incredible amount of commitment and energy and are willing to go the extra mile to get the job done in our district. These teachers have outstanding training and professional development that we are learning from and hope to replicate. I’m also looking to expand more dual immersion schools and Teach For America teachers and leaders are a major source of this talent for me moving forward.”

Teach For America is among the most rigorously evaluated teacher preparation and development programs in the country. The AIR findings add to the body of research indicating that Teach For America teachers have a positive impact on student learning in Texas and across the nation.  In 2016, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) published a review of the research on Teach For America and concluded that Teach For America’s first and second year teachers have positive effects on student outcomes, especially in math and science. A national survey by the RAND Corporation found that 81 percent of principals who worked with Teach For America corps members believe those teachers had a positive impact.  The most recent Texas specific-impact evaluation conducted by Edvance in 2012 shows positive effects on student achievement for students in a Teach For America classroom – finding that students of Teach For America corps members had larger gains in middle school math than students of non-Teach For America early-career teachers in schools without any Teach For America corps members. 

About Teach For America

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Corps members are teaching today in 53 urban and rural regions across the country. They join more than 12,000 alumni educators in a teaching force of 19,000 and an overall community that is 53,000 strong, working across every sector to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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