Santa Monica, CA—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) has received a $49 million, five-year federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant. In partnership with 12 Louisiana school districts, the grant will be used to improve the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders and increase student achievement in some of the highest-need schools in the state, totally eighty-nine schools across six parishes and six charter schools.
"NIET's work for over a decade has focused on advancing educator effectiveness," NIET Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gary Stark said. "I am excited about this statewide collaboration to advance principal and teacher leadership. We look forward to working with educators across Louisiana."
The funds allows districts to use practices and structures that have been tested, adjusted and proven effective in high-need schools. These include:
"NIET's track record of success in supporting high-need districts to improve classroom instruction is based on elements that are aligned with our priorities at the state level," Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White said.
The grant partners are the parishes of DeSoto, East Feliciana, Madison, Orleans, Rapides and Saint John the Baptist as well as New Orleans charters Algiers Technology Academy, Eisenhower Academy, Landry-Walker High, McDonogh #32 Charter, Fischer Academy, and Martin Behrman Academy.
Local superintendents are eager to put these practices into action.
"We know that to attract and retain talented teachers and school leaders, we must make great classroom teaching the driving focus of our efforts," Orleans Parish Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis said. "The work in this grant will increase our success in attracting, retaining, developing and motivating a highly effective staff, which will enable us to close achievement gaps and help students to meet academic goals."
Rapides Parish Superintendent Nason Authement added, "This effort demonstrates our commitment to turning around our chronically low-performing schools by focusing on creating great teachers and school leaders."
Having multiple districts collaborating and sharing best practices is a valuable benefit, not only in the ability to replicate what works, but also in broadening the impact of those practices to a larger number of teachers and students.
"We see tremendous value in working with other districts on this initiative," noted Saint John the Baptist Parish Superintendent Kevin George. "This will enable us to learn from others and to demonstrate the impact across multiple communities."
The grant project is designed also to improve teacher effectiveness and promote equitable access to effective educators in alignment with the Louisiana State Equity Plan.
The TIF grant expands upon a long history of work in Louisiana by NIET that dates back to the implementation of the TAP System beginning in 2004. The success of the TAP System in building structures for teacher leadership, collaboration, performance-based measurement of classroom practice, and significant observation and feedback for every teacher is evidenced in the growth in teacher practice and student achievement in high-need schools.
"Louisiana districts have had solid, measurable success with evidence-based practices over multiple years, and this grant will expand that success into new districts," said NIET President Dr. Patrice Pujol. "When I was superintendent of Ascension Public Schools, I saw the benefits firsthand of leveraging best practices and creating a common vision around effective instruction."
Equipped with a diverse staff of educators, researchers, and policy experts, NIET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that pursues a mission to advance educator effectiveness. NIET supports schools, districts, universities, and states with educator evaluation training, evaluator certification modules linked to learning platforms, human capital management systems as well as tools and resources for educator preparation. Learn more at www.niet.org.
Lowell Milken with Students at Friendly House Academia del Pueblo Elementary Charter School