Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • A pathway to recruit and prepare teachers: Teach For America (TFA) is an educator recruitment and preparation program that places recent college graduates and professionals as classroom teachers in low-income schools. The program aims to advance educational equity by supplying teachers who can drive measurable improvement in student outcomes and whose professional trajectories are informed by their classroom experience.

  • Recruiting recent college graduates and career changers: To be eligible to apply to TFA, an applicant must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or above and plan to or have already earned a bachelor's degree before the start of the program. Most applicants apply in their senior year of college, though TFA also accepts applicants who intend to change careers. In recent years, TFA has accepted around 25 percent of applicants, resulting in cohorts of approximately 1,600-2,500 per year nation-wide.

  • Providing training before corps members enter the classroom: Once accepted, TFA staff assist new corps members with completing steps needed to enter the classroom (e.g., meeting certification requirements, preparing for interviews with schools). This is supplemented by a 5-7 week pre-service training over the summer before corps members begin teaching. During pre-service training, corps members teach summer school classes under the supervision of certified teachers; receive feedback from TFA instructional coaches; and take coursework in instructional planning, classroom management, literacy development, and more.

  • Working with schools that serve low-income students: Regional TFA offices develop relationships with local public and charter schools that serve a high proportion of low-income students. Starting in the summer, these schools can hire TFA corps members through the school’s traditional hiring process. Often, TFA staff connect school leaders with corps members who match their hiring needs (e.g., through referrals, by organizing a hiring fair).

  • Supporting corps members during their teaching commitment: As part of joining TFA, corps members make a two-year commitment to their placement school. Over that period, TFA corps members receive ongoing training and support. This includes a TFA instructional coach, who conducts classroom observations in corps members’ classrooms and provides feedback to improve their practice; periodic regional training; and, in most regions, university coursework designed to meet state certification requirements.

Cost per Participant
$81,000 per corps member across 3 years (from TFA); $3,283 per teacher (average district contribution)

Multiple studies with rigorous designs provide some evidence for Teach for America as an effective strategy for improving student mathematics achievement.

  • Invest in recruitment: In areas with a large number of school districts (e.g., a public school district and multiple charter districts), competition for the best teachers can be high. School districts can identify TFA corps members who are the best fit for their schools by developing relationships with regional TFA staff, attending a TFA hiring fair, and beginning the recruitment process in the early summer.

  • Provide effective new teacher supports: Transitioning into teaching is often challenging for new teachers, including TFA corps members. School districts can support corps members by implementing strategies that support all new teachers, such as matching new teachers with an experienced mentor teacher, conducting ongoing professional development aimed at new teachers (e.g., a session with mock parent-teacher conferences), and more.

  • Coordinate training with external partners: During their two-year commitment, Teach For America corps members receive ongoing professional development from a TFA instructional coach. In most regions, this is supplemented by coursework at a partner university. School districts employing TFA teachers can coordinate with these entities to minimize duplicative training and ensure external training matches district needs.

  • Implement retention strategies: While some TFA corps members leave their roles after two years, about60 percent teach for at least a third year. School districts can increase the number of TFA teachers they retain by proactively helping them meet state certification requirements, offering financial assistance to complete a master’s degree, and creating clear pathways for professional advancement (i.e., teacher leadership).