NNSTOY is engaged in a variety of research projects that are closely aligned to our Strategic Plan.  We partner with other organizations in undertaking these studies which are jointly published.

Emerging Research on Assessment

Beginning a Higher Trajectory:

Grade 11 Study

This report is the latest in a series on high-quality summative student assessments. In our preceding two reports, The Right Trajectory and Still the Right Trajectory, we examined the grade 5 assessments previously used by individual states and compared them with the two consortia  assessments.

In this report,  we convened a panel of twelve outstanding educators to examine the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) grade 11 assessment. The expert panel examined only the Smarter Balanced grade 11 assessment because there were no previous state assessments that could be used for comparisons.


These educators found many things to like about the assessment, and they made recommendations for continuous improvement.


Download Beginning a Higher Trajectory -- Grade 11 Report

Research on Why Strong Assessments Matter

Still on the Right Trajectory:

State Teachers of the Year Compare Former and New State Assessments

The study is a continuation of our The Right Trajectory research study released in November 2015. In this follow-up study, we focus on the Western part of our country, examining the grade 5 assessments given by the states of Nevada and Oregon and the grade 5 assessment developed by the Smarter Balanced consortium, to which the states have switched.

A panel of the best teachers in the country convened to give voice to critical questions about the quality of former and new state assessments, with particular attention paid to the new consortium test under study. These front-line experts believe that despite challenges still to be overcome, Smarter Balanced is an improvement on the former assessments and represents movement in the right direction for students and for education in their states.

Download Still on the Right Trajectory (PDF)

Download Still on the Right Trajectory -- Executive Summary

Great to Influential

What do we know about the characteristics of teacher leaders; the roles they undertake; and the challenges and barriers that exist to teacher leadership? In this follow-up study to our Good to Great report, we conducted deep dive focus groups with State and National Teachers and of the Year and Finalists serving as teacher leaders to discover answers to these questions. This report concludes with specific policy recommendations for supporting teacher leadership in state and local contexts.

The report is the second in a series from a collaboration of nine leading organizations working to advance teaching and elevate the profession. Originally proposed by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) and led by NNSTOY and the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) at American Institutes for Research, the study involves the following partner organizations, many of which contributed to this second report by assisting in the development of the focus group protocol, analysis of preliminary findings, and review of

the report:

  • American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
  • GTL Center
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
  • National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)
  • National Education Association (NEA)

Teacher Career Advancement Initiatives: Lessons Learned from Eight Case Studies

The purpose of this report is to describe what we learned from studying eight teacher career advancement initiatives implemented across a variety of contexts, including urban, suburban, and rural districts; high poverty and affluent districts; and in schools/districts both with and without strong union presence. We describe key principles for developing successful, sustainable teacher career advancement initiatives. This report is the product of a three-year study conducted by the Center for Educator Learning and Effectiveness at Pearson and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) in partnership with the National Education Association and Public Impact and with assistance from the American Federation of Teachers. It represents the second phase of our research into how the teaching profession needs to evolve to meet 21st century career expectations for a new generation of teachers and learners. This report provides our findings from case studies of schools and districts with established career advancement initiatives as well as several in the early stages of implementation.


The Right Trajectory: State Teachers of the Year Compare Former and New State Assessments

This report focuses on the important issue of assessing our students’ learning through standardized, summative assessments. Utilizing research-based methodologies and practices including Evidence Centered Design, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, and survey instruments designed for this study, two panels were convened to examine six assessment instruments. Each study panel was composed of State and National Teachers of the Year
and Finalists for State Teacher of the Year. Each panel examined three assessments: two assessments given by states before switching to new state assessments developed by the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment consortia and one consortia assessment. The five key findings are:

1. The new consortia assessments better reflect the range of reading and math knowledge and skills that all students should master.

2. The new consortia assessments include items that better reflect the full range of cognitive complexity in a balanced way.

3. The new consortia assessments better align with the kinds of strong instructional practices these expert teachers believe should be used in the classroom, and thereby better support great teaching and learning throughout the school year.

4. The new consortia assessments provide information relevant to a wide range of performers, particularly moderate and high-performers.

5. While the new consortia assessments are more rigorous and demanding, they are grade-level appropriate, and even more so than prior state tests

White Paper: Engaged Educators and the Policy Process

From Good to Great: Exemplary Teachers Share Perspectives on Increasing Teacher Effectiveness Across the Career Continuum

In this first-of-its-kind exploratory survey, over 300 National and State Teachers of the Year share insights into the professional experiences and supports that they believe most contributed to their growth and eventual excellence as a teacher.

Reflecting back on their careers, from preparation through mastery and even into retirement, the Teachers of the Year surveyed in this study provide education leaders and policymakers with needed information about the professional experiences that help teachers move from good to great.

White Paper: Re-Imagining Teaching: Five Structures to Transform the Profession

Teacher preparation, evaluation, and the characteristics of effective teaching are at the center of contemporary education research and policymaking. NNSTOY believes that five key structures—found in almost every other field—have the potential to transform teaching into a profession that fosters continuous improvement, high expectations, and shared accountability.

Research Study: Creating Sustainable Teacher Career Trajectories: A 21st Century Imperative

Teaching has historically been described as an “unstaged occupation,” with few opportunities to access higher earning and higher status positions. The main opportunity for career advancement for teachers is leaving the classroom to become a school administrator. This report offers a new vision of teacher career pathways that holds promise for recruiting and retaining excellent teachers who further student learning, providing consistent access to excellent teachers.

With half of the nation’s teachers planning to retire over the next decade, our research focuses on identifying practices that make teaching attractive for a new generation of educators. This document summarizes how lessons learned from recent initiatives can be applied more systematically across the teaching profession to meet 21st century career expectations.

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