Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation (Access Restricted)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instr and Curr Leadership


Instructional Design and Tech

Committee Chair

Lee Allen

Committee Member

Beverly Cross

Committee Member

Mary Boundreaux

Committee Member

Deborah Lowther


Due to the proliferation of alternative teacher certification programs and the limited qualitative research on Teach for America’s (TFA’s) teacher preparation programs, the current study is an exploration of the program’s effectiveness in preparing high-quality teachers to serve in historically marginalized communities. Alumni of TFA have significantly impacted urban school districts, national policy and legislation, and the narrative on the traditional preparation of teachers from grades kindergarten to 12. In the current study, a phenomenological research method was used to explore the experiences of Teach for America alumni; data were collected via online surveys, a series of three semistructured interviews, and internal organizational documents. The primary goal of the study was to identify the ways in which TFA’s tenets and practices prepare alumni to provide minority students in urban school districts with equitable educational experience in comparison to districts without a significant number of Black and low-income students. Study results indicated that while TFA’s policies are intended to eradicate educational inequity, the organization’s practices tend to generate outcomes that further exacerbate inequity for historically marginalized students in urban schools. Well-intentioned participants lacked initial and on-going culturally relevant coursework and strategic community engagement experiences, but benefited from the job-embedded support and TFA’s alumni network. It is recommended that Teach For America address the disconnection between their stated polices and existent outcomes in districts and schools.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.