Frequently Asked Questions

We’re here to help answer all of your questions. If you still have more questions, feel free to contact us.

Who do we recruit and how long do they stay in education?

We recruit professionals and recent graduates from over 700 colleges and universities who have demonstrated the commitment and leadership ability needed to teach successfully in low-income public schools.

  • Teach For America teachers are more likely than others to stay in the classroom during the first two years: about 89% of our first-year teachers return for a second year, compared with 87% of all new teachers.
  • Unfortunately, high-need schools in the U.S. already have high rates of teacher turnover, regardless of how teachers have been prepared. Nearly half of all teachers leave the classroom within five years, and in high-need schools the rate is even higher.
  • While Teach For America requires a two-year commitment, three-fifths of alumni teach a third year, and 30% of the more than 37,000 alumni are still in the classroom today.
  • In Memphis, of more than 300 local alumni, teaching is the most common profession and nearly 90% are working full-time in education.

Why does Teach For America ask for just a two-year commitment?

Although we only require a two-year commitment, 61% of our teachers return to the classroom for a third year and a full third of Teach For America’s 32,000 alumni are still in the classroom today.

  • Many of those who leave the classroom continue to be strong advocates for education, both within the field and outside of it.
  • Again, our teachers are more likely to stay in the classroom during the first two years than traditionally trained teachers. Specifically, 89% of our first year teachers return for a second year compared to 82% of first year teachers in high poverty schools and 87% of all new teachers.

Is our training and support model effective?

A growing body of rigorous research shows corps members are, on average, more effective than comparably experienced teachers.


  • Between 2009-2012, statewide studies in North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana have concluded that Teach For America is among their states’ top preparation programs.
  • In independent surveys conducted every two years, the overwhelming majority of principals say that Teach For America corps members make a “positive difference” in their schools. Across the country, numerous Teach For America teachers have been honored as state teachers of the year.
  • A 2013 study by U.S. Department of Education and Mathematica Policy Research reported that, on average, students taught by Teach For America teachers showed an additional 2.6 months of learning in math over the course of a year.
  • Teach For America – Memphis and Teach For America – Nashville are the only programs that have been ranked among the most effective by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for five years in a row.


Do our corps members take jobs from veteran teachers?

No. Our teaching corps is one source of high-potential candidates partners consider as they seek to fill open positions.

  • Corps members apply for open positions alongside all other applicants. Principals and district officials make independent hiring decisions.
  • Teach For America recruits are part of the same candidate pool as other teachers and must demonstrate the same qualifications.
  • Principals choose Teach For America corps members to fill vacancies at their schools, often in hard-to-staff subject areas including science, math, and special education.

How does Teach For America determine who they partner with and where they work?

Schools and districts partner with Teach For America as one additional source of highly qualified teachers for their open positions.

Partnership decisions take the following considerations into account:

  • The presence of a significant educational opportunity gap within a community
  • A desire and need from school districts and charter schools to have additional sources of diverse teaching talent for open positions in high-need schools and content areas
  • Securing funding commitments to cover the cost of recruiting, training, and supporting corps members

At a Glance

Year TFA Arrived in Memphis
Corps Size the First Year
Corps Size This Year
Alumni in Region