NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken Introduces the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement
After more than a decade of recognizing and rewarding great teachers, NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken wanted to create an initiative to generate excellence across the teaching workforce. "We must create a new sense of professional purpose and self-respect. We must adopt a new structure and new models to meet the challenge of the new millennium," he shared in 1999. The TAP System was his proposal.
NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken Visits Arkansas School
Early adopters including Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina, Indiana, and Louisiana paved the way for TAP's sustainability and expansion. NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken visited Rockefeller School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in October 2003. Arkansas was one of the first states to implement TAP.
Educators See TAP in Action in South Carolina
What teaching and learning looks like has changed over the years, but the expectations for excellence have stayed constant. South Carolina was one of NIET's earliest partners, and when the 2005 annual conference came to the state, some attendees were able to see how teaching practice improved through TAP during a visit to James J. Davis Elementary School. The principles of the rubric in use then have since been scaled across the state through the South Carolina Teaching Standards 4.0.
NIET Senior Trainer Teddy Broussard Leads TAP Conference Session
NIET's conferences have been popular since the very beginning − with some familiar faces each year. Teddy Broussard, now NIET's senior trainer, joined the organization in 2013 as executive director of the Louisiana Teacher Advancement Program and continues to provide training and assistance to teacher leaders and principals across the country. Here at one of the earliest conferences in 2003, Teddy always has been focused on building educators' leadership skills.
Dr. Ann Shaw Leads Training with South Carolina Higher Education Partners
South Carolina's multiyear rollout of the South Carolina Teaching Standards 4.0 has allowed teachers to better grasp the expectations before they are fully implemented. Dr. Ann Shaw, a former South Carolina master teacher and Milken Educator, has led trainings across the state with both educators and higher education partners who want to ensure aspiring teachers understand the rubric before they have a classroom of their own.
DeSoto Parish Schools (LA) Superintendent Clay Corley Visits with Students
DeSoto Parish Schools in northwest Louisiana has kept its focus on educator effectiveness across three district leadership transitions. When Clay Corley began his role as superintendent in 2018, he used the moment as an opportunity to refocus and go deeper. At the time DeSoto began to implement TAP in 2008-09, student success was lagging. The district's graduation rate that year was 67.8%, and in 2010, the district ranked #45 in the state. Thanks to educators' work, that has changed. In 2016, DeSoto earned its first "A" rating from the state, and on the 2019 LEAP test, DeSoto Parish ranked #12 overall.
Lowell Milken and Dr. Gary Stark Honor 2018 TAP Founder's Award Finalists
NIET honors excellence each year through its Founder's Award. The award honors schools that have made exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of NIET and the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, resulting in improvements to educator effectiveness and student achievement growth. Finalists for the award all receive a $10,000 prize, with the winner receiving $50,000. In 2018, NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken and then CEO Dr. Gary Stark honored some of NIET’s longest and most successful partners as finalists, one of which was West Goshen Elementary School in Goshen Community Schools, Indiana.
Mentor Teacher Heather Smigielski Teaches a Lesson to Southport Elementary (IN) Students
Perry Township's success is rooted in the district's decadelong approach to teacher excellence. The adoption and implementation of the NIET Teaching Standards Rubric has allowed every educator to speak from a common language, and district leaders have prioritized instructional support and career growth opportunities. As a result of its work to put teacher leaders at the forefront of school improvement, Perry Township's students have narrowed achievement gaps, increased graduation rates, surpassed the state average on the state test, and made double-digit gains on the WIDA exam, which measures the abilities of multilingual readers. Southport Elementary School, where Mentor Teacher Heather Smigielski teaches, is an example of this success. Nearly 50% of the school's population are English language learners, and 85% of students classify as economically disadvantaged, but teachers have never settled for less than excellence. Southport students outperform the state average on the annual assessment, and the school has been rated as an A or B by the state every year since 2013.
NIET President and COO Josh Barnett Meets with a Student at Wildflower Accelerated Academy, Arizona
NIET President and COO Dr. Josh Barnett has had a front-row seat to witness the learning and work unfold at Wildflower Accelerated Academy in Avondale Elementary School District, where school leaders make every decision based on data and what is best for students.
Mansfield High School, Louisiana, Teachers Discuss Effective Strategies for Raising Student Achievement
Mansfield High School in DeSoto Parish Schools, Louisiana, has experienced historic educational achievement with the implementation of the TAP System, moving from a D to an A-rated school. Master Teacher Anesha Ross (left), now assistant principal at North DeSoto High School, was part of a team who led the change. According to Principal Toras Hill, equally important to the school's progress is the staff's process: Faculty focuses on developing a growth mindset for individual students and teachers alike that has been essential to reaching benchmarks. In 2019, in addition to an overall A rating, Mansfield High School also earned an A for growth from the state of Louisiana.
Somerset High School, Texas, Students Collaborate on a STEM Project
Somerset High School in Somerset ISD, Texas, exemplifies the district's commitment to closing achievement gaps and using an intentional, data-driven process to address students’ needs. Somerset ISD, located just southwest of San Antonio, serves a school community where more than 80% of families are low-income and students face daily challenges. Through implementing the research-based TAP System, teachers and school leaders across the district now have the structure to provide focused support, and they are able to create a nurturing and stable student-centered school environment. Teachers regularly collaborate around how they can maximize opportunities and make learning relevant, and students are realizing their fullest potential. Additionally, while the TAP System has created a pipeline for leadership, the district has also partnered with Texas Tech to establish a "grow your own" partnership for aspiring teachers and administrators. The results continue to show what is possible. In 2019, the district earned an A from the state of Texas for school progress and an overall letter grade of a B.
Arizona State University Teacher Candidates Train with Copper Trail Middle School Students
When Arizona State University teacher candidates are placed at NIET partner schools like Copper Trails Middle School, where the rubric is already in place, their transition to a classroom of their own is seamless. Student teachers become comfortable with the rubric and can practice delivering high-quality instruction during long-term residencies, during which they are mentored by educators who have the same expectations for great teaching and learning.
NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen Visits with Educators in Perry Township, Indiana
Dr. Candice McQueen joined NIET as CEO in 2019, and she visited partners across the country in her first few weeks, including Perry Township Schools in Indiana.
NIET-ASU Partnership Prepares Math and Science Teachers
To address a growing and significant shortage of teachers with expertise in STEM fields, Arizona State University and several high-need K-12 districts across Arizona joined NIET to design solutions with the support of a federal Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant in 2013. The partnership prepared highly skilled middle and high school math and science teachers, pairing intensive classroom preparation with quality training in STEM subjects, and placing these new STEM teachers in high-need districts and schools.
Gadsden Elementary School District Builds Impactful Leadership Skill Set
Gadsden Elementary School District's long-term partnership with NIET has empowered a local, sustainable, and successful instructional leadership pipeline. Six of the district's eight principals started as master teachers. Gadsden's focus on human capital development through structured teacher leadership opportunities has provided principals with intentional training and mentoring to build an impactful leadership skill set. School and teacher leaders coach peers and provide professional development centered on instructional practice.
Indiana Master Teacher Lauren Moore Shows Power of Teacher Voice
Educator Lauren Moore of West Goshen Elementary School, Indiana, has shown the power of teacher voice through her roles as master and mentor teacher, as well as through her policy fellowship with Teach Plus. The opportunities she had as a teacher leader empowered her to advocate for others to have the same chances to grow professionally, and she actively worked to advance legislation in Indiana that creates funding and policy support for career ladder structures like the TAP System.
Alice Harte Head of School Robert Hill Advances Teacher Leadership
"We take pride in advancing teacher leadership and educator effectiveness. We have been blessed with the opportunity to provide our teachers with resources and a credible system that impacts student achievement directly," says Robert Hill, head of school at NIET partner InspireNOLA's Alice M. Harte Charter School.
Mellichamp Elementary Principal Hayward Jean Collaborates with Teachers
Mellichamp Elementary School Principal Hayward Jean joined fellow Orangeburg, South Carolina, teachers and leaders to collaborate on what the next phase of learning looks like. Mellichamp Elementary was one of NIET's first partners to implement School Improvement Solutions, and after the first year, state test results showed fourth and fifth grade students made multipoint jumps in both English language arts and math.
NIET Hosts National and State Leaders to Advance Career Opportunities for Teachers
Leaders at the national and state level have taken notice of NIET's work, and principles are now in place throughout various grant programs, policies, and initiatives. Superintendent Pat Mapes (speaking) shared about how Perry Township has benefited from teacher leadership programs, which caught the attention of state Representative Bob Behning (left), who then advanced legislation in Indiana to further career opportunities for teachers.
The NIET Team Gathers in Nashville, Tennessee
Our incredible team is at the heart of what we do each day, and they set us apart. They are educators who have had years of experience leading this work firsthand, and they spend hours each week walking alongside teachers and principals through the halls and classrooms of schools, asking questions and building capacity to help them grow. At NIET, we believe we can work with any school to help them take what they are doing to the next level – no matter where they are. We know because we've seen success in all kinds of schools, from Phoenix and New Orleans to rural Tennessee and tribal reservations. We have incredible optimism and belief in what teachers and students are capable of – and we wake up every day excited to see them reach their highest expectations. There is so much in store for the next 20 years.
- 20th anniversary
- Candice McQueen
- Educator Observation/Evaluation
- Educator Preparation
- Educator/Teacher Retention
- Higher Ed
- Instructional Coaching
- Lowell Milken
- Principals & Administrators
- Professional Learning
- Student Achievement
- TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement
- Teacher Leadership