For more than a decade, NIET has worked with school districts and teacher preparation programs across the state of Arizona to improve the skills of both veteran and aspiring teachers to support student learning.
High-need schools and districts see increases in student success
The results of this investment over the course of a decade can be seen in the remarkable success achieved by individual schools, and by districts. Wildflower Accelerated Academy in the Avondale Elementary School District outside of Phoenix is a powerful example. Wildflower's high-need student population surpasses more affluent students on the state achievement system. This success is reflected districtwide in Avondale, where student achievement and state ratings are significantly above neighboring districts.
NIET has also supported significant academic achievement in the Chinle Unified School District, located in the Navajo Nation. Chinle partners with NIET to support school and teacher leaders to set goals, design learning to meet these goals, adjust based on student learning needs, and continue to improve instruction in every classroom.
In 2020, Phoenix's Roosevelt Elementary School District began partnering with NIET on a Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) School grant under the Arizona Department of Education. The project currently includes 15 out of the district’s 20 schools that have been identified by the state as needing support. NIET provides principal coaching and teacher leader support, supports the district Teaching and Learning Department with the Roosevelt Instructional Model, supports PLC implementation, and is helping to transform professional learning communities into data-driven decision-making hubs based on the individual needs of teachers and students.
Strengthening the skills of school and teacher leaders
Districts work with NIET to build job-embedded professional learning structures and classroom coaching in their highest-need schools, providing teachers with additional support to continuously improve their practices. NIET supports school leaders to lead this work, while developing their own instructional leadership skills.
Teacher leaders serve on school-level leadership teams with their principals. Teacher leadership roles are instructionally focused, with release time, training and resources to lead weekly collaborative learning teams, and individual coaching in each teacher's classroom. This structure expands the amount of instructional leadership capacity in each building, and creates a system for continuous improvement of classroom teaching and learning.
Higher education partnerships build a pipeline of well-trained teachers
Our higher education work began with several school districts in the Phoenix area that were working with Arizona State University's (ASU) Teacher College to recruit new teachers with the skills to be successful in their first year, particularly with high-need students. One of the key features of the partnership was the adoption of the NIET Teaching Standards Rubric—describing effective teaching across a range of classroom practices—by districts and the ASU teacher preparation program.
As these partnerships grew, NIET worked with districts to develop an Aspiring Teacher Rubric describing instructional skills and knowledge for new teachers. NIET invited longtime partner Northern Arizona University (NAU) to join the national pilot of the Aspiring Teacher Rubric in 2020. The Aspiring Teacher Rubric is a powerful tool for supporting candidates to meet the expectations of the classroom, and to assess their instructional preparedness in a comprehensive way.
Additionally, in 2021, ASU's Teachers College began working with a number of schools in multiple school districts to implement Next Education Workforce models. Now, with its K-12 school partners, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is developing a research agenda in order to generate evidence-based knowledge about the relationships between Next Education Workforce models and outcomes for both learners and educators. A partnership with NIET has helped to create an instrument that allows individual teams to discern which elements of Next Education models they are implementing well and identify areas of improvement and growth.
ASU's Teachers College has also been awarded a federal Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program (TSL) grant to partner with Mesa Public Schools and NIET to expand their Next Education Workforce model. NIET will lead two key components – refine the current Next Education Workforce observation tool and Mesa Public Schools Portrait of a Graduate Look-Fors – and support the creation of the Next Education Workforce compensation model.