Cover: Results from the Teach For America 2017 National Principal Survey

Results from the Teach For America 2017 National Principal Survey

School Leader Perspectives on Induction, Support, and School Partnerships

Published Jan 17, 2018

by Amanda F. Edelman, Rachel Perera, Jonathan Schweig

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Research Questions

  1. Are principals who currently employ Teach For America (TFA) corps members in their schools generally satisfied with the corps members, their participation in the school community, and their classroom practices?
  2. What are principals' perceptions about the hiring process and the training and support that corps members receive from TFA?
  3. What are the trends in the responses of principals who are themselves TFA alumni and principals who work in charter schools?

Teach For America (TFA) recruits, selects, and trains recent college graduates and professionals to teach for a two-year commitment in high-needs schools across the United States. This report describes the findings from TFA's 2017 National Principal Survey, which is administered biennially to all partner principals currently employing TFA teachers (called corps members) in their schools. Nearly 1,100 principals across the United States who work with TFA corps members completed the 2017 National Principal Survey, for an overall response rate of 43 percent.

The survey results suggest that principals are generally satisfied with corps members and the support that TFA provides to corps members. As a possible reflection of this satisfaction, respondents were also likely to consider hiring a TFA corps member to fill a vacancy and/or recommend hiring a corps member to a school leader colleague. The findings suggest that if a principal does hesitate to hire a corps member, it could be due to perceptions of weak classroom management skills or the potential for losing the corps member after their two-year commitment. Although overall marks were high, charter school principals and TFA alumni principals tended to rate corps members' abilities to create classroom environments that supported student growth and achievement significantly lower than their non–charter school leader and non–TFA alumni school leader counterparts. These results shed light on opportunities for TFA to continue to improve principal satisfaction with corps members and the training and support TFA provides them.

Key Findings

Principal Overall Satisfaction with Corps Members Was High

  • The majority of responding principals (86 percent) indicated that they were satisfied with the corps members at their schools.
  • There were significant differences in some of these perceptions by school sector and prior principal experience. Principals who were TFA alumni and those who led charter schools were significantly less likely to report positive feedback about corps members' abilities to create classroom environments that supported student growth and achievement when compared with non-TFA alumni and non–charter school participants' responses.

The Majority of Principals Would Hire or Recommend Hiring Corps Members in the Future

  • Eighty-two percent of responding principals indicated that they would be willing to hire another TFA corps member if they had a teaching vacancy. Similarly, most participants (88 percent) responded that they would recommend hiring corps members to other principals.
  • Principals had two potential concerns about hiring TFA corps members: corps members' classroom management skills and the fact that TFA corps members only make a two-year commitment to the teaching profession.

Principals Are Satisfied with the Training and Support That TFA Provides to Corps Members

  • Nearly all respondents (92 percent) were familiar with one or more components of TFA's training and support, which includes such activities as a summer institute, coaching, group professional development sessions, and access to the broader TFA network.
  • Of the principals who indicated that they were familiar with the training and support that TFA offers corps members, 88 percent indicated that they were satisfied with them.


  • Investigate the sources of principal dissatisfaction to obtain a deeper understanding of principal experiences.
  • Address principals' concerns about corps members' two-year commitment and classroom management skills.
  • Improve principals' understanding of corps member training and support.

The research described in this report was funded by Teach For America (TFA) and conducted by RAND Education.

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