Invest to Lead: How to Structure and Fund Teacher Leader Roles to Earn the Greatest Return: Better Instruction and Increased Student Achievement

June 5, 2019

Invest to Lead: How to Structure and Fund Teacher Leader Roles to Earn the Greatest Return: Better Instruction and Increased Student Achievement

New Report, Investing in Teacher Leadership, offers recommendations for district leaders along with state and federal policymakers to design, implement and fund job-embedded professional learning

Washington, D.C.—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today released a report that identifies solutions to address a growing need: ensuring professional development supports educators as they adjust to rising expectations, including the use of new, high-quality curricula.

NIET's new report describes how teacher leadership roles can be leveraged to improve teachers' professional learning and classroom instruction, as well as how leaders can maximize funding streams to support formal teacher leadership roles. The report was released in tandem with an event NIET hosted in D.C. that featured educators, district leaders and policymakers who have implemented state and systemwide teacher leadership initiatives—with many showing increased results in student performance.

With the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), districts and states are taking a new look at how they are using funds to support improvements in professional learning, classroom instruction and student learning.

NIET's new report, Investing in Teacher Leadership: A Better Way to Make Job-Embedded Professional Learning a Reality in Every School, identifies steps that align funding and practices to invest in:

  1. School-based, instructionally focused teacher leader roles
  2. Design and implementation of job-embedded professional learning strategies and structures led by teacher leaders 

NIET's recommendations are based on 20 years of experience working with thousands of practitioners across multiple states:

District Leaders

  1. Articulate a vision for teacher leadership and build political will to support it
  2. Coordinate funding streams to invest in schoolwide systems of instructional improvement by taking advantage of funding flexibility
  3. Shift resources toward evidence-based practices and away from professional learning and school improvement activities that are not effective
  4. Create a strategy for moving to job-embedded learning and school-based professional development

State Policymakers

  1. Use ESSA Title I and II-A set-asides to support formal teacher leadership roles
  2. Create sustainable, dedicated funding streams to support teacher leadership
  3. Ensure maximum flexibility on the use of the funds for schoolwide improvement activities

Federal Policymakers

  1. Provide technical assistance to states on how ESSA policies and funding support formal teacher leader roles and school-based professional learning
  2. Prioritize formal instructional teacher leadership roles in competitive grants
  3. Create a dedicated funding stream to support innovation and research in teacher leadership

Investing in Teacher Leadership was released during a panel in D.C. moderated by Dr. McQueen, and which featured insights from Indiana Rep. Robert Behning, Perry Township Schools (IN) Superintendent Pat Mapes, Grand Prairie High School (TX) Teacher Leader Christina Jamison, Teach Plus President and CEO Roberto Rodriguez, International High School at Largo (MD) History Teacher Sheena Washington, and Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise.

David Cleary, chief of staff to U.S. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, and Ross Wiener, executive director of the Education and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, also offered comments.

This is a follow-up to NIET’s report, Unleashing Teacher Leadership: How Formal Teacher Leader Roles Can Improve Instruction, which shares lessons from districts across the country for creating and implementing teacher leadership roles that result in improvements to student learning.

Download a summary of key takeaways from both reports.

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About NIET
NIET's mission is to build educator excellence to give all students the opportunity for success. Over the past two decades, NIET's work—impacting more than 250,000 educators and 2.5 million students—has helped our nation’s schools and districts earn historic results in student achievement. Learn more at