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.
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
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 is a certified public accountant and attorney and serves as president of RFG Financial Group, Inc.
Dr. Candice McQueen
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
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
Dr. James W. Guthrie is a presidential fellow and professor of Education Policy at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
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.
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.