October 01, 2012
NIET EXPANDS SCOPE WITH NEW TEACHER INCENTIVE FUND GRANTS
Nearly $40 million awarded to strengthen educator effectiveness and student achievement in Iowa, Minnesota and Tennessee
Santa Monica, CAThe National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) announced that it will work with districts and schools in Iowa, Minnesota and Tennessee through nearly $40 million in new federal Teacher Incentive Fund grants to develop effective educators in high-need schools. In this most recent round of TIF grants, NIET will build on more than ten years’ experience in developing and sustaining educator talent through TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, one of NIET's signature initiatives.
Introduced in 1999, the TAP system revitalizes the teaching profession through leadership opportunities, professional development, evaluation and performance-based compensation.
NIET will serve as fiscal agent in partnership with the primarily rural Central Decatur and Saydel Community School Districts in Iowa; the Emily O. Goodridge-Grey Accelerated Charter School, Sojourner Truth Academy, Hmong College Prep Academy and the Partnership Academy in Minnesota; and Athens City Schools and Morgan County Schools in Tennessee, both rural districts.
In addition to the implementation of TAP, each grant will have a new and different focus on improving teacher quality in high-need populations, building on NIET's diverse experience. In the Iowa grant, NIET will work to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teaching staff and learning opportunities for students. In Tennessee, NIET will help build professional development and support to make more effective use of evaluation data, among other things. And in Minnesota, NIET will partner with a consortia of charter schools serving high-need student populations to find new ways to attract, retain and develop a highly effective teaching staff through new career opportunities designed to support school goals.
"We are excited to work with such a diverse number of schools and districts on comprehensive plans for improving teacher and principal effectiveness," said Dr. Gary Stark, president and chief executive officer of NIET. "TAP puts teacher leaders and principals in the driver's seat to move the whole school forward. Our proven track record shows that when you create a collaborative, nurturing environment for everyone to thrive, higher recruitment and retention follow. These grants provide NIET and the districts with the opportunity to continue to learn how to scale and align teacher and principal evaluation with meaningful professional support, while advancing the individual goals of each district and school in areas such as STEM."
NIET will also be taking a significant step forward in technology and online resources for these TIF districts. NIET's training portal will offer additional hours of videotaped lessons along with scoring and post-conferencing coaching sessions for those lessons. Training modules on specific indicators of practice will provide more examples and support for teachers looking to understand and implement excellent practice.
Online support for evaluators is included to help more efficiently score and review evaluations. Similarly, online certification tools ensure the high-quality preparation and rigorous assessment of evaluators. For example, online certification requires the ability to review and evaluate a range of video examples of actual classroom practice and to score those episodes accurately.
TAP will be introduced to Iowa schools for the first time through a $9.5-million TIF grant serving the Central Decatur and Saydel Community School Districts. NIET will work with the districts to get up and running, including hiring teacher leaders—known as TAP master and mentor teachers—for each of six schools. Together with administrators, they will drive instruction in the schools by establishing weekly TAP professional development "cluster" meetings, a rigorous evaluation system, and teacher pay based on classroom observations and student achievement growth.
New to TIF for Fiscal Year 2012 is the option to participate in a requirement to develop top-notch STEM teachers. As a result, part of Iowa's TIF grant will focus on a comprehensive approach to training teachers in STEM content and skills, and make it possible for them to seek additional training at local universities.
Through a $15.2-million grant to Tennessee, NIET will enter into new partnerships with Athens City Schools and Morgan County Schools to implement TAP in each of 13 schools. A focus will be placed on full-range access to NIET's data management tools to better track and analyze data and plan rigorous plans for professional development.
In Minnesota, NIET will use the $13-million grant to work alongside each of the four schools to raise teacher effectiveness and ensure that all students achieve at least one full year of academic growth. Aspects of these reforms have been underway as part of the state's Q-Comp initiative; this TIF grant will allow the schools to implement them to scale.
Separately, the South Carolina Department of Education has been awarded $24.7 million to expand and sustain its state-level TAP infrastructure. State-level infrastructures for TAP have built firm foundations for taking the reform model to scale, supporting schools and districts in the process, and producing strong student achievement gains.
TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement is a comprehensive reform to increase teacher and principal quality. TAP links performance-based compensation to systems and processes such as professional development, evaluation and career advancement, to help all educators in a school improve. www.tapsystem.org
Learn more about NIET at www.niet.org.
Erik Hanushek, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
"The evaluation of TAP schools clearly shows that teachers in the program are significantly better than the average teacher in regular public schools. More TAP teachers are above average in terms of student achievement gains. Fewer are far below. This finding is very notable given the importance of teachers to student achievement."