● Why is this contract needed? This contract is a critical part of the overall pathways utilized to support the recruitment and retention of diverse and highly effective educators. Teach For America (TFA) specifically identifies and supports promising leaders to seek out positions in high-need schools.
The prior action item authorized a contract with Teach for America through FY25. The School District of Philadelphia (District) is seeking authorization for additional funding in FY24 and FY25 and an option to extend the relationship through FY26 to enable schools to bring on additional educators.
● How is this work connected to the District’s plan to achieve Goals & Guardrails? The additional compensation for the contract with Teach For America will result in the District being able to hire additional teachers who will create welcome and supportive schools, partner with parents and family members, address racist practices, and create enriching school experiences for students.
● How will the success of this contract be measured? This contract will be measured on volume (number of corps members hired into full-time teaching roles), diversity, quality of programming (rating of teachers and professional development support), and quality of recruitment efforts.
● If this is the continuation of a contract, how has success been measured in the past and what specific information do we have to show that it was successful? Success has been measured on volume (number of corps members hired into full-time teaching roles), diversity, quality of programming (rating of teachers and professional development support), and quality of recruitment efforts. We have more than 100 Teach For America alumni in teacher, school leadership, and Central Office positions throughout the district. 46% of current first and second year TFA corps members identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
● When applicable, is this an evidence based strategy? If so, what evidence exists to support this approach?
“Making a difference? The effects of Teach For America in high school” (2011) published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management found that students of TFA teachers performed similarly to students of non-TFA teachers in math and reading. However, the study also found that TFA teachers were more effective than non-TFA teachers in improving the performance of low-achieving students in math.
Another study published in Education Next found that TFA teachers were more effective than other novice teachers in math and science, but not in reading. The study also found that TFA teachers were more effective in high-poverty schools and in schools with high percentages of minority students. (“The Effects of High-performing, High-turnover Teachers on Long-run Student Achievement: Evidence from Teach For America,” Lovinson 2022)
The most recent study, commissioned from Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences, found that students of Teach For America teachers learned 2.6 months more mathematics in a year than students in the same schools taught by teachers from traditional preparation programs or less selective alternative route programs. This study employed a random-assignment experimental design, considered the “gold standard” research methodology for impact evaluations, and its estimates are representative of what rigorous studies of Teach For America, experimental and otherwise, tend to find.
A fourth study published in the Journal of Teacher Education found that TFA teachers were more effective in increasing student achievement in math and science compared to non-TFA teachers. The study also found that TFA teachers were more effective in schools with higher levels of poverty.
● When applicable, was a larger community of District community members and/or stakeholders involved in this selection process? If so, what groups and how?
Principals and Assistant Superintendents have expressed interest in continuing and expanding the District’s partnership with Teach For America to increase the total number of corps members as a strategy to hire more diverse teachers. We have had multiple planning and coordination calls engaging school leadership.