For the past 20 years, NIET has worked in more than 9,000 schools across the country to support great teaching and improve student achievement.

Our Mission

Knowing that teacher quality is the single biggest in-school factor for student success, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) builds educator excellence to give all students the opportunity for success.

Our vision is that every student in America is taught by an excellent teacher and supported by effective leaders every year—and that has been the foundation of our work for the past two decades. We believe intentional, sustained and high-quality investments in educators directly result in success for all students and are essential to eliminating equity gaps. We have optimism about what every teacher and student is capable of, and we see them rise to new levels of success every day.

As a result, NIET is committed to raising achievement levels for all students by focusing on the most powerful lever for change: teachers and the leadership that supports them.


Educators who benefit from NIET's partnerships.
Students who, through NIET's work, are inspired to excel every day.
Teacher leaders, trained by NIET, who use proven strategies for success.
The only people who develop human potential and character as a calling are educators. This puts the men and women who choose to be teachers and principals in a position of unique power to help secure our children's future.
NIET Founder Lowell Milken

Our Team

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Lowell Milken

Lowell Milken's lifelong commitment to strengthening K–12 education has led to some of the country's most innovative means to dramatically advance educator effectiveness.

Dr. Joshua Barnett

Co-President and Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Joshua Barnett is co-president and chief operating officer for NIET, responsible for supporting NIET partnerships with strategic oversight of research, NIET's higher education innovation, and service delivery.

Laura Encalade

As co-president for NIET, Laura Encalade supports strategic planning efforts, partnership opportunities, and the development of new services and technologies for the organization.

Vicky Condalary

Senior Vice President of Services
Before serving as senior vice president of services, Vicky was executive director of the LA BOLD Project, assistant director of school services and was the project director for TAP Connect, a SEED grant in partnership with Texas Tech and five independent area school districts.

Sara Gast

Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Strategic Communications
Sara Gast is the chief of staff and executive director of strategic communications. Sara serves as an advisor to the CEO, leads NIET's communications efforts, and manages special projects while collaborating with and supporting colleagues throughout the organization.

Dr. Tanée Hudgens

Vice President of Research and Evaluation
As vice president of research and evaluation at NIET, Dr. Tanée Hudgens is responsible for establishing, managing, and overseeing research and evaluation initiatives within the organization.

Dr. Davita Lancelin

Executive Director, Service Operations
Dr. Davita Lancelin is executive director of service operations as well as supports Louisiana districts and schools through the LA BOLD Teacher Incentive Fund Grant.

Stephanie Mosqueda

Vice President of Virtual and Learning Technology Services
Stephanie Mosqueda oversees NIET's web-based tools, as well as content and technical assistance support for partners.
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Our Steering Committee

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 Bob  Behning

Bob Behning

Indiana State Representative and Director of External Affairs for Marian University Klipsch Educators College

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr.  Paula  Summers Calderon

Dr. Paula Summers Calderon


Southeastern Louisiana University College of Education

Hammond, LA

Dr. James  Gray

Dr. James Gray


Jefferson Parish Schools

Harvey, LA

Dr. Tonia   Howard

Dr. Tonia Howard

Chief of Leadership Development and Special Programs

Lancaster Independent School District

Lancaster, TX

 Hayward Renel Jean

Hayward Renel Jean

Director of Student Services

Orangeburg County School District

Orangeburg, SC

 Lori  Line

Lori Line

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources

Goshen Community Schools

Goshen, IN

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Our Educator Advisory Board

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Dr. Chris  Burkett

Dr. Chris Burkett

Gamecock EdQuarters Executive Director

University of South Carolina College of Education

Columbia, SC

 Corrie  Callahan

Corrie Callahan

Master Teacher

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School

Perry Township, IN

 Robert  Hill

Robert Hill

Head of School

Alice M. Harte Charter School, InspireNOLA

New Orleans, LA

Dr.  Araceli  Montoya

Dr. Araceli Montoya


Wildflower Accelerated Academy

Avondale Elementary School District #44, AZ

 Lauren  Moore

Lauren Moore

Master Teacher

West Goshen Elementary School

Goshen, IN

 Alex  Patterson

Alex Patterson

Mentor Teacher

Dodson Branch School


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Board Members

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Lowell Milken


Lowell Milken's lifelong commitment to strengthening K–12 education has led to some of the country's most innovative means to dramatically advance educator effectiveness.

Dr. Gary Stark

Vice Chairman

As vice chairman of NIET's board, Dr. Gary Stark supports and advises NIET staff and the board of directors in their mission to advance educator effectiveness.

Ralph Finerman


Ralph Finerman is a certified public accountant and attorney and serves as president of RFG Financial Group, Inc.

Dr. Candice McQueen

Board Member

Dr. Candice McQueen is the president of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. She formerly served as chief executive officer of NIET and Tennessee's commissioner of education.

Dr. Ted Sanders

Board Member

Dr. Ted Sanders is an education executive and corporate director with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry.

Dr. James W. Guthrie

Board Member

Dr. James W. Guthrie is a presidential fellow and professor of Education Policy at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Ray Simon

Board Member

Ray Simon is the head of Simon Consulting, where he provides independent consulting services at the national, state and local levels on topics relating to education policy and practice.

Our History

The goal of NIET has always been clear: Build teacher excellence to improve student outcomes. Now, we have 20 years of experience doing just that.

From the revolutionary TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement that was launched in 1999 to our partnerships impacting 275,000 educators and 2.75 million students, NIET has helped our nation's highest-need schools and districts earn historic results in student achievement.

Through its comprehensive approach to teacher leadership, professional development, evaluation and competitive compensation, the TAP System has created dynamic and collaborative learning environments for students and educators alike. Early TAP adopters—including Arizona, South Carolina and Louisiana—were led by state leaders who had the foresight and conviction to enact transformative change. Those early successes spurred additional partnerships in diverse schools and districts across the country. 

TAP has now been recognized by multiple researchers as an innovative model with proven success, and the foundational components of TAP have been the building blocks for all of NIET's work. As demand escalated for TAP's proven instructional tools, NIET developed a range of educator effectiveness initiatives to cover a broader base and customize our partnerships and support to fit specific state and district needs. By 2010, NIET had doubled its impact on teachers and students across a number of states including Tennessee, Texas and Ohio, and clearly established how teacher effectiveness impacts student success.

For example, in 2011, Tennessee became the first state to also use NIET's teaching standards as the basis for feedback and observation, including them in the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM). Thanks to effective teachers in the classrooms, Tennessee became the fastest-improving state in the country on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Based on the successful effort in Tennessee, NIET was awarded a contract with the Ohio Department of Education to design training and support tools around the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). The Ohio portal now includes more than 12,000 certified evaluators who benefit from the sophisticated training system complete with video, modules, live-streaming and more. 

At the same time, universities began working with NIET to integrate TAP into their curriculum and clinical practices, strengthening the alignment of teacher preparation with the needs of local schools. In 2009, NIET began a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU), with Texas Tech University following in 2013. Today, NIET partners with over 75 universities to support stronger teacher preparation.

More recently, NIET has taken the best practices from the work underway and developed new service options that meet the needs schools face today, focusing specifically on two areas: school improvement and teacher and leader development. Through these initiatives, NIET has seen promising outcomes at schools in a variety of different environments and is building capacity so schools can sustain their growth for years to come.

NIET's role and influence have expanded from a few partners to a national movement over the past 20 years. With the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), NIET principles are now embedded into K-12 education law and aligned with federal requirements. NIET is seen as a policy leader at both federal and state levels, helping to sustain and expand initiatives that support teacher leadership and keep educator effectiveness at the forefront of the national agenda to strengthen K-12 education. At the federal level, the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), Teacher and School Leader Incentive (TSL) program, Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program, and Title II have provided some of the highest-need schools in the U.S. with resources to attract, develop, motivate and retain talented educators over the long term. States such as Iowa and Texas have approved comprehensive policies for supporting teacher leadership, mentoring, professional development, evaluation and competitive compensation. This has created opportunities for educators to grow, and now hundreds of our partners across districts, states and educator programs are demonstrating how great teaching creates great schools.

We are proud to be pioneers in this work, but we have only just begun. We look forward to the next 20 years of building educator excellence to ensure every student in every classroom in America has the opportunity to learn from a great teacher every year.