Impact of TNTP’s Teaching Fellows in Urban School Districts

Urban school districts often rely on alternative teacher certification programs to help address ongoing demands for recruiting and hiring qualified teachers. These programs offer pathways into teaching outside of traditional university-based teacher education programs. TNTP’s Teaching Fellows program has been one of the most prominent alternative certification providers in the U.S., primarily serving urban communities. TNTP (formerly known as The New Teacher Project) recruits aspiring teachers, whom it refers to as Fellows, through a selective process and provides a summer pre-service training institute and in-service seminars and coaching in the first year of teaching. At the end of the first year of teaching, TNTP uses a performance assessment to determine whether or not Fellows will be recommend for certification.

This report summarizes a multi-year evaluation of the implementation and impacts of TNTP’s Teaching Fellows program in seven large urban districts, supported by an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Primary outcomes included student achievement and classroom observation scores in the second year of teaching. We employed quasi-experimental methods to match Fellows and similar new teachers who were not trained by TNTP, and match students of these teachers, using extant de-identified data from districts. This approach allowed us to construct and analyze large samples of teachers and students across districts, including more than 20,000 students taught by approximately 1,000 teachers to examine impacts on student achievement.

TNTP implemented the program with fidelity during the evaluation period, with all district sites meeting predetermined benchmarks for implementation of core program components. We found no differences in teacher instructional practice or student achievement between Fellows and matched comparison teachers, though Fellows demonstrated higher retention into the second year of teaching than other new teachers in their districts. These findings suggest that the Teaching Fellows program was able to provide the districts with additional candidates for teaching vacancies without reducing teacher quality or student academic outcomes in these districts.