Over the past 27 years, we’ve grown from just under 500 corps members across five regions to a community of more than 56,000 corps members and alumni across 53 regions. We’ve taught millions of students over the years—with our current corps reaching more than 390,000 students.
Starting in the early 2000s, we rapidly increased in both scale and impact. A $50 million scale-up grant from the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) of the U.S. Department of Education, awarded in 2010, played a role in this overall trajectory of growth. Two external studies by Mathematica Policy Research and Bellwether Education Partners examined this period of growth.
Mathematica’s report examined our implementation of the i3 scale-up grant. Its analysis found that we met our growth targets; we largely scaled with fidelity among five critical programming components, including recruitment/selection, pre-service training, ongoing support, placement, and retention; corps members who taught pre-K through second grade boosted student reading scores by an amount equal to 1.3 months of additional instruction, when compared to other teachers in the same schools; and corps members who taught secondary math boosted student learning by an equivalent of 2.6 months of additional learning, when compared to other teachers in the same schools.
Some key lessons from Bellwether’s report, Exponential Growth, Unexpected Challenges: How Teach For America Grew in Scale and Impact, were a strong theory of change is paramount to a scaling organization and an intentional focus on both scale and quality are necessary in order to not compromise one for the other.