TYLER, Texas (KETK)- Two East Texas school districts were included in four Texas school districts that will receive a three-year $12 million grant from the federal Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program.

The grant will be used to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness and improve teaching and learning in 19 high-need schools.

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) announced the award on Tuesday and that they received the funds from the federal Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program to partner with Branch Alliance for Educator (BranchED) diversity and four of the following Texas school districts:

  • Crockett ISD
  • Gladewater ISD
  • Slaton ISD
  • Somerset ISD

Through the grant partnership, called Texas IMPACT (Improving Management Systems for Principals and Classroom Teachers), educators will get support from the NIET and BranchED.

NIET is a national nonprofit that has strengthened teaching in high-need schools in Texas and across the country for more than 20 years.

BranchED, is a Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to diversifying the teaching profession and intentionally addressing critical issues of educational equality.

“This Teacher and School Leader federal grant will help accelerate Texas’ learning recovery and target support in the areas with the most need. We are excited for this opportunity to partner together and build on the strengths in these schools to show what is possible when every educator is supported and every student can learn from a world-class teacher.”

JOSH BARNETT, NIET Co-President and Chief Operating Officer

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a learning loss across the country.

According to data from the Texas Education Agency, students experienced large learning declines in all subjects, especially in mathematics.

In 2021, 35% of students met grade-level expectations, compared to 50% in 2019.

The four districts in the grant have high populations of students from families who face economic challenges, with the percentage of students classified as economically disadvantaged ranging from 73-89%, according to the NIET.

The Texas IMPACT partnership will work to combat learning losses in the 19 schools through evidence-based strategies including the following:

  • Creating roles and opportunities for teachers leaders
  • Providing customized professional learning to teachers during the school day
  • Using an instructional rubric to ground teaching in research-based practices
  • Creating a system of performance-based compensation that rewards teachers who show growth or take on additional responsibilities

To align these strategies, the districts will use NIET’s TAP System.

“We are excited to collaborate alongside educators in these four school districts to help them take their instruction to the next level. This is an opportunity to help teachers and students change their trajectory in a way that not only results in improvements a year from now, but also sets them up with tools that will equip them to grow for years to come.”

Laura Encalade, NIET Co-President

BranchED will provide learning and coaching to help district leaders and educators focus on building culturally responsive teachers and school leaders who create inclusive school environments.

Dr. Cassandra Herring, the president and CEO of BranchED, said they are proud to be part of the partnership and to provide support for educators in Crockett, Gladewater, Slaton and Somerset.

Crockett ISD’s Superintendent, John Emerich mentioned this is a huge opportunity for teachers and students.

“We see this as an investment in our educators that will better equip us to meet the incredible needs presented by the pandemic and empower our teachers to accelerate improvements in student achievement long-term,” Emerich said.

“Texas IMPACT is a chance for rural communities like ours to receive access to resources we otherwise would not be able to receive,” said Gladewater ISD Superintendent Sedric G. Clark. “Our school community has been resilient through the pandemic, and this investment will help us to strengthen our recovery efforts and double-down on our work to make this school year the best ever.”

The grant partnership will launch this fall. In the coming days, NIET team members will begin meeting with districts and start planning for implementation, including designing custom professional learning and coaching plans for the rest of the school year. For updates, please visit niet.org.

For two decades, NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states, and universities to build educator excellence and give all students the opportunity for success. NIET’s initiatives, including TAP, teacher and leader development, school improvement, rubric and observation systems, and educator preparation, have impacted more than 275,000 educators and 2.75 million students across the U.S. Learn more at niet.org.