Improving Teacher Effectiveness in Indiana: New Study Finds Impact

September 19, 2023

Improving Teacher Effectiveness in Indiana: New Study Finds Impact

When a new opportunity to enhance the professional capacity of teachers and leaders became available, more than 60 letters of support from local, national, district and community leaders flooded in. The resulting partnership between innovative Indiana school districts and the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching received a federal Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive Program grant in 2019. A new study finds the TSL grant was a powerful catalyst for improvements in instruction and teacher effectiveness.

The results make one thing clear: supporting teachers to improve their instructional skills raises student achievement.

The Indiana TSL grant served all types of communities from urban to rural and impacted more than 120 administrators, 1,800 teachers, and 26,000 students in grades PK – 12. On average, these high-need schools had over 60% of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and over 50% of students were students of color.

The impact of the three-year partnership included:

  • 99% of effective teachers maintained their performance above the effectiveness rating.
  • 91% of developing teachers improved their performance to above the effective rating.
  • The TSL partner schools outperformed matched comparison schools on English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics state assessments.

Percentage of Students Proficient or Above on Indiana State Assessments,
Indiana TSL Partner Schools Average and Comparison Schools Average, 2020-21 to 2021-22

Schools that worked with NIET through this grant enhanced their Human Capital Management Systems through implementation of the TAP System, which helps build educators' effectiveness and enables schools to develop teachers as instructional leaders, plan weekly professional learning tailored to individual needs of teachers and students, create a shared vision for improving teacher practice and student achievement, and implement strategic compensation systems. The TAP System has four core elements:

  1. Multiple career paths: Skilled teachers in TAP System schools can serve as teacher leaders, receiving additional compensation for providing support to career teachers, who have primarily classroom instructional responsibilities.
  2. Ongoing applied professional growth: Research shows that teacher-led, ongoing, collaborative, and relevant professional development enhances teacher learning, student achievement, and teacher retention. The TAP System provides this support through strategies such as weekly cluster meetings for teachers to examine student data, engage in collaborative planning, and learn instructional strategies field-tested in their own schools.
  3. Instructionally focused accountability: Research shows that implementing rigorous and comprehensive teacher evaluation systems encourages self-reflection and meaningful conversations about classroom practice, suggesting a promising school improvement strategy. Teachers in TAP System schools are observed several times a year by multiple trained observers using the NIET Teaching and Learning Standards Rubric.
  4. Performance-based compensation: Performance-based incentive programs have shown gains in teacher retention and student achievement. Teachers in TAP System schools can earn annual bonuses based on their observed skills, knowledge and responsibilities, the academic growth of their students, and the entire school’s achievement growth.

Three years of continuous improvement of their implementation of the TAP System helped schools in the Indiana TSL partnership develop supportive environments that provided benefits to both teachers and students. Through their implementation of the TAP System, the Indiana TSL district partners built educator capacity, which ensures sustained impacts for both teachers and students.

For more information on the TSL grant’s impact in Indiana and how NIET helped partners succeed, read the full research brief here.

NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states, and universities to ensure all students have effective educators for more than 20 years. Its work to develop teacher leaders, support successful instructional strategies, and build educator capacity to address student needs has served more than 9,000 schools and has impacted more than 300,000 teachers and 3 million students.