Evaluation of Teach For America Indianapolis

The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation commissioned RAND Corporation to conduct a study on the impact of Teach For America Indianapolis on student outcomes in Marion County. The report also examined data regarding professional trajectories of Teach For America Indianapolis alumni, including those who have left K-12 schools and moved on to other types of work.

During the 12-year study period beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, TFA teachers were found to be more effective than non-TFA teachers with similar years of experience. When compared, TFA teachers improved student achievement by 1 additional percentile point in English language arts and an additional 2 percentile points in math. The impact was approximately twice as large in schools with at least five TFA teachers, where TFA Indianapolis teachers were associated with an additional 2-percentile point improvement in ELA over non-TFA teachers and an additional 5-percentile point improvement in math.

Findings indicated TFA teachers are placed in schools with lower prior student achievement and a larger share of students from low-income families than other first-year teachers. Also, in recent years, TFA teachers have been more racially diverse than other new teachers. While TFA Indianapolis teachers were shown to leave the profession at a higher rate than non-TFA teachers, TFA Indianapolis teachers of color tended to stay in teaching longer than white TFA teachers.

Finally, the study estimated the net effect of TFA Indianapolis teachers on student achievement, considering both their higher turnover rates and their greater average effectiveness when compared to non-TFA teachers with similar experience. The findings indicate TFA teachers’ greater effectiveness more than makes up for the negative impact on student achievement associated with their higher turnover rate.