Through this analysis with my colleagues, I have realized there are activities in my lesson plan I can take out that really are not as beneficial in helping my students master the lesson's objective. By making a tweak to the plan, I can provide my students greater opportunities for engagement.Knox County Teacher
School improvement, at its core, is about improving instruction, and NIET has a 20-year record of raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps in high-need schools.
We know each school has its own set of unique challenges. We work within schools to develop a needs assessment and then tailor our support to improve educators' effectiveness.
Our School Improvement Solutions model is rooted in proven principles that create effective structures for teacher leadership and foster a culture for educators and students alike to excel.
We have partnered with 1,000 districts across 20 states, including 8,500 public, private and charter schools, and we work in all educational settings—in urban, rural, suburban and tribal districts.
Based on two decades of work, we have found four key elements that lead to school success:
I now have a systematic way to keep a pulse on what is going on throughout the school while building the capacity of the members of my leadership team and career teachers.Victoria McMullen-Dunn, Principal, Louisiana
We often hear from educators and aspiring teachers that they want ongoing support to advance their career and opportunities to increase their knowledge and skills as they do.
Our teacher leadership and professional learning systems provide solutions by creating formal structures that give teacher leaders the responsibility, accountability and authority to drive instruction. We also provide coaching and support for other key roles—particularly to empower principals, district and other system administrators to be instructional leaders—recognizing that building deep capacity rooted in rich academic practice is foundational to long-term success.
TAP encourages school leaders and teachers to reflect on best practices and to continuously strive to become more effective for their students. Because of the support provided by the master and mentor teachers, the observation process, and the participation in the weekly cluster meetings, everyone is working toward common goals specifically to meet the needs of our students while at the same time increasing the quality of their instruction. TAP provides the blueprint that every school needs to make improvements and to be successful.Mindy Searcy, District Executive Master Teacher, Arkansas
Decades of piecemeal reforms have failed to dramatically improve teaching and learning in our nation’s high-need schools. The TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement was created by NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken as a comprehensive approach to establish sustained structures for building educator excellence and increasing student achievement growth. Since its introduction in 1999, we've seen the TAP System lead to dramatically improved outcomes for students and change the trajectory of entire schools. Over 95 percent of participating TAP schools are high-need and serve diverse areas—from Phoenix to rural Tennessee. Through the implementation of four interrelated key elements, teachers are improving their instruction and the achievement of their students. The four elements are:
There are very few other systems out there that allow teachers to give feedback to teachers in a structured way. Developing a culture where feedback is accepted, appreciated and the norm in our schools promotes success.Dr. Betsy Hargrove, District Superintendent, Arizona
Based on nationally normed, research-based standards, NIET's Teaching and Learning Standards Rubric clearly defines effective teaching and fosters collaboration around a common language and vision that correlates with student achievement.
The rubric, currently used by nine states, brings a comprehensive focus on four key domains: Instruction, the Learning Environment, Designing and Planning Instruction, and Professionalism.
Our observation system provides schools with a strong, valid and reliable instrument utilizing multiple observations of every teacher, every year by multiple, trained and certified evaluators. All evaluations are followed up with a post-conference session between the observed teacher and the evaluator to discuss areas of strength and refinement with the sole purpose being to help the teacher improve.
We offer schools the opportunity to use NIET's Teaching and Learning Standards Rubric, or we assist them in implementing their own. These efforts are supported by:
- Multiple measures of educator effectiveness.
- Research-based teacher classroom observation rubric that correlates with student achievement growth.
- Detailed post-conference planning to translate evaluation results into professional growth opportunities.
- Hundreds of hours' worth of videos that show effective teaching along with evidence and scoring via EE PASS, our online portal.
- Online training modules on each indicator of the observational rubric to support individualized professional development for teachers and help them identify and visualize strong practice.
The Principal Rubric is the most comprehensive tool for leader development I have encountered. It allows me to focus on the areas that will impact our school success in the most effective ways.Michele M. Smith, Pierceton Elementary School Principal, Whitko, IN
NIET believes effective leaders must establish, communicate, and activate a compelling vision of excellence; prioritize and create instructional coherence; develop high expectations and equitable opportunities; build the capacity of others; and model integrity and build trust.
To support principal growth and development, NIET has developed a Principal Standards Rubric and Principal Leadership Series. These services are designed to build essential mindsets and skills that help principals elevate their practice and create a culture to advance instructional practice and improve outcomes for all students.
Additionally, NIET works alongside superintendents and district teams to build instructional leadership and identify high-impact action steps that will systemically improve instruction. The support is grounded in the NIET District Instructional Framework, which is aligned to NIET's Teaching and Learning Standards Rubric and Principal Standards Rubric.
They know about teaching. They know how to plan a lesson. They know how to assess student learning, and they can manage student behavior. Our teacher candidates come out more like a second-year teacher than a first-year teacher. If that's not a revolution in education, what is?Dr. Gale Stocks, Site Coordinator, Texas Tech's TechTeach Program
NIET works hand in hand with over 75 universities to prepare a pipeline of the next generation of effective educators. By strengthening the connection between K-12 and higher education institutions, our partnerships effectively prepare aspiring teachers for the expectations of the classroom.
Specifically, NIET helps educator preparation programs embed research-based, effective principles into coursework and clinical practices. We work alongside higher education leaders to help them successfully align instructional practices with clinical placements and coursework expectations.
NIET provides formal overview training to the teacher candidates so they can see the full picture: the rubric's components, how the indicators fit within them and which descriptors demonstrate the indicators. As students matriculate through their program, they increasingly become able to recognize the indicators weaved throughout it.
Our approach produces reliable results. Teacher candidates graduating from NIET-supported programs enter the classroom well-prepared to work with students and are often comparable to a second- or third-year teacher.
We partner with teacher prep programs through four key components. Universities can engage on any of the four—or all of them.
- NIET partners with Arizona State University (ASU) on multiple federal grants supporting pre-service and in-service educators.
- We work with universities across the state, including Northern Arizona State University, to strengthen teacher preparation coursework and clinical field experiences using the NIET Aspiring Teacher Rubric.
- NIET is a trusted partner for school improvement, working with schools and districts across the state to raise student achievement.
- The Arkansas Rural Educator Network (AREN) supports educators across the state with opportunities for professional learning and collaboration.
- Cross County School District received a five year $4M federal Teacher and School Leader Incentive (TSL) program grant to improve classroom instruction. They have used this grant to build an innovative grow your own program to address the need for well-trained new teachers.
- NIET is partnering with the Alaska Council of School Administrators and four rural Alaskan school districts on a 3-year federal Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program grant.
- NIET teacher leadership development was highlighted as a model in the Indiana Career Ladder program, with 5 districts receiving grants to establish instructionally focused teacher leadership structures.
- NIET Teaching and Learning Standards rubric and evaluation process are listed as an approved teacher evaluation model.
- Faculty at Marian University’s Klipsch Educators College are embedding the NIET Teaching and Learning Standards in their pre-service teacher coursework to strengthen support for teacher candidates into their first year of teaching.
- NIET provided training for more than 100 districts across the state on the Iowa instructional framework.
- NIET’s work in Iowa has included school improvement, developing teacher leaders, coaching principals, and strengthening STEM classroom practices.
- We work with school and district leaders in more than half the districts in the state to build the capacity of educators and close student learning and achievement gaps.
- The NIET Teaching and Learning Standards rubric is approved as a statewide rubric and can assist in the implementation of Tier 1 curricula.
- NIET supports the Louisiana Mentor Teacher Initiative as one of the approved partners to help districts develop and strengthen their new teacher supports.
- Educator preparation programs at four universities are embedding the NIET Teaching and Learning Standards into coursework and field experiences for teacher candidates.
- NIET partners with districts and schools to build onsite capacity through coaching and professional learning opportunities for leaders.
- NIET, in partnership with the University of South Carolina and the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED), received a 3-year, $2.5 million federal Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant to build the capacity of principals and school leaders and advance equity.
- NIET provides statewide professional learning opportunities for classroom teachers in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education.
- NIET partnered in the development of the South Carolina Teaching Standards Rubric 4.0, which describes effective classroom teaching practices, and helps teachers to move to more student-centered instruction.
- Partnered in the development of the statewide educator evaluation system, Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM), which is based on the NIET Teaching and Learning Standards Rubric. Tennessee evaluators complete certification through the NIET EE PASS Portal.
- NIET, The Ayers Foundation, the Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation, and SCORE established the Tennessee Rural Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN) to support preparation and professional development in rural districts.
- NIET provides access to a broad range of resources through an online portal, with an extensive video library and training modules accessible to every Tennessee teacher.
- Supports districts as a technical assistance provider under major state teacher initiatives—including the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA), Mentor Program Allotment (MPA), and Texas Resilient Schools Support Program (RSSP).
- Partnered in the development of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS), which is based on the NIET Teaching and Learning Standards rubric.
- Partners with Texas Tech University and other institutions of higher education in the state to improve the preparation of new teachers and school leaders and strengthen partnerships with school districts.