What are the effects of Teach For America on Math, English Language Arts, and Science outcomes of K–12 students in the USA?

Additional Info

  • Authors: Herbert Turner, Mackson Ncube, Annette Turner, Robert Boruch, Nneka Ibekwe
  • Published date: 2018-06-25
  • Coordinating group(s): Education
  • Type of document: Title, Protocol, Review, Plain language summary, Other
  • Volume: 14
  • Category Image: Category Image
  • PLS Title: There are too few well-designed studies to know the effects of Teach for America on Math, English Language Arts, and Science outcomes of K–12 students in the USA
  • PLS Description: There are too few well-designed studies to know the effects of Teach for America on Math, English Language Arts, and Science outcomes of K–12 students in the USA Teach for America (TFA) is an alternate route teacher preparation program that aims to address the decades-long shortage of effective teachers in many rural and urban public schools for kindergarten through 12th grade (K–12), that serve the highest proportions of high-poverty students across the USA. This review finds that are very few studies – just four – which reliably measure the effects of TFA on learning outcomes, so that no firm conclusions may be drawn. This systematic review evaluated the impact of TFA prepared teachers (corps members) relative to novice teachers and alumni relative to veteran teachers on K-12 student outcomes in Math, English Language Arts (ELA), and Science.
  • Title: What are the effects of Teach For America on Math, English Language Arts, and Science outcomes of K–12 students in the USA?
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About this systematic review

This Campbell systematic review examines the impact of Teach For America on learning outcomes. Four studies were included in the review.

What are the main results?

Studies had to be a quantitative evaluation of the effects of TFA on K-12 student academic outcomes. Studies also had to use a research design which:

  1. allowed valid causal inferences about TFA’s effects
  2. targeted participants K–12 students taught by TFA corps members or TFA alumni in the USA
  3. compared TFA corps members to novice teachers, or compared TFA alumni with veteran teachers, and
  4. reported at least one academic student outcome in math, ELA, or science domains.

A total of 919 citations were retrieved on TFA, of which 24 studies were eligible for review. However, when the research design and study quality along with types of TFA corps members and non-TFA teachers compared were reviewed, the evidence base for estimating the effects of TFA on student academic outcomes was reduced to just four studies.

There is no significant effect on reading from teaching by TFA corps members in their first or second year of teaching elementary-grade students (PreK – grade 5) compared to non-TFA teachers who are also in their first or second year of teaching elementary-grade students. There is a small positive effect for early elementary-grade students (PreK to grade 2) in reading but not in math.

However, given the small evidence base, these findings should be treated with caution.

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