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.

The Student-Affirming Education Needed for Our Children and Our Nation’s Future Report

Build For Equity

The National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) conducted a months- long study on how to diversify the teacher workforce. This study, sponsored by ETS (Educational Testing Service), analyzed the practices of current and former educators and school personnel who have overseen hiring educators. A complementary literature review examined the effectiveness of current efforts in place across the country to diversify the teacher workforce. Research shows this has a positive impact on all students. Below are some highlights from the study and report:

Download the report


Each domain reflects common themes encountered through the literature review and stakeholder interviews.

The Student Experience: Students of color are more likely to have a negative classroom experience, which in turn makes them less likely to return to the classroom as teachers. Increasing the racial diversity of educators can flip this pattern into a virtuous cycle.


The Access: Licensure requirements and standardized assessments can act as barriers to the profession for people of color. We must act to remove roadblocks and facilitate access for prospective teachers.


The Affirmation: Teachers of color often lack demonstrated support and professional development opportunities needed to affirm their place within a diverse educator Ensuring teachers of color are empowered to show up fully and honestly is key to diversifying the teacher pipeline.


The Team: Schools must be willing to transform their culture and hiring processes to successfully recruit and retain a diverse educator workforce.


The Community: Teachers of color benefit from a sense of belonging and a supportive community.


The Gatekeepers: Teachers of color are more likely to assume leadership roles within a school when they are supported by school leaders.


The Respect: Attracting more teachers of color to the profession will require a systemic change in the way the teaching profession is respected and valued.


The Resources: Tangible financial benefits must be in place to encourage more students of color to consider the teaching profession.


The Redesign: The American education system must be willing to change the structures in place that are deterring educators of color from entering the profession or exiting prematurely.


100Kin10 Project Team: Supporting Holistic Frameworks for Mentoring Teacher Leaders (2019)

This Project Team's goal was to develop recommendations for how to improve and formalize holistic coaching for teacher leaders. Their members include National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), High Tech High, DoDEA, Boyd County Public Schools, and New Teacher Center.

Many coaching frameworks for teacher leaders focus solely on instructional support, and ignore other aspects of their role, such as building positive school culture and work environments. Led by NNSTOY, this Project Team examined existing frameworks and developed 8 publicly available coaching and reflection tools to support teacher leaders to take on, manage, and balance responsibilities both in and out of the classroom.

These tools include:

A coaching conversation tool, developed to assist educators in conversations that support reflection on multiple areas of practice and leadership. The tool may be used in a variety of ways by adapting the reflection column to fit the needs or goals of the conversation either independently or collaboratively with a peer or coach.

A self-assessment tool for each of the 7 domains of the Teacher Leader Model Standards, with resource links to support further leadership development.

Domain 1: Fostering a Collaborative Culture to Support Educator Development and Student Learning

Domain 2: Accessing and Using Research to Improve Practice and Student Learning

Domain 3: Promoting Professional Learning for Continuous Improvement

Domain 4: Facilitating Improvements in Instruction and Student Learning

Domain 5: Promoting the Use of Assessments and Data for School and District Improvement

Domain 6:  Improving Outreach and Collaboration with Families and Community

Domain 7: Advocating for Student Learning and the Profession

Examining Career Trajectories for Black Male Educators in P-12 Education

Download Having Our Say

Through their goal of transforming the teaching profession and increasing the cadre of educators and administrators in P-12, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) has partnered with University of Phoenix (UOPX) to examine the current trajectories of Black male educators as they enter into and advance within school settings. Each year, NNSTOY recruits dynamic Black male teachers, P-12 administrators, and higher education professionals for participation in the Outstanding Black Male Fellowship  and provides a forum for discussion of key issues relevant to the professional development and advancement of Black male educators in P-12 education. NNSTOY asserts, “Promoting teacher leadership means developing and empowering highly effective teachers to take a leadership role in innovation, collective capacity, and continuous improvement ― in policy, practice, and advocacy.”

The content of this white paper will include a critical examination of the career trajectories of Black male educators from three perspectives: recruitment, retention, and mobility. Throughout this document, the authors have incorporated the insights, observations, and opinions of these dynamic fellows, using reflective quotes and personal narratives. Finally, this focused dialogue presents recommendations for future initiatives, models, and actions supporting Black males in education.


WATCH: Diversifying Education Roundtable

Students of color comprise more than half of U.S. classroom populations, yet Black males make up just two percent of the teacher workforce. University of Phoenix, in association with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), hosted a roundtable webinar to discuss steps to attract and retain Black males in the P-12 education workforce.

Moderated by Education Post, the webinar brought together the voices of University researchers, NNSTOY fellows and Black male educators from local school districts to present the findings from a University-led white paper, entitled, “Having Our Say: Examining Career Trajectories of Black Male Educators in P-12 Education.” The panel discussed potential solutions to improve students’ cultural and academic edification through diversifying the teaching profession.
Achieving a diverse and inclusive P-12 workforce is critical to ensuring that students receive a robust, quality educational experience. However, overcoming the shortage of Black male teachers has been a dilemma for our nation’s schools for decades. Black males often don’t aspire to become teachers because of deterrents to the profession. Those who do face unique challenges. To ensure quality, equitable learning for all students, schools must recruit and retain Black male teachers by committing to paths that make it easier for that demographic to enter the profession. An infographic on the paper’s findings shares high-level insights from the research team.

Rebuilding the Ladder of Educational Opportunity

The Report

Opportunity gaps have plagued American education for decades. The gaps are widening, not shrinking, as economic inequality increases in U.S. society. This study draws together themes and actions taken by schools and teachers who are outliers on that trajectory: those who manage to reduce the effects of opportunity gaps in education, supporting their students to success and achievement beyond the expected. No single heroic teacher can eliminate these effects, but schools and districts, working together as a coherent system, can soften the blows and help students reach their full potential as students, as graduates, and citizens.


The Toolkit

This toolkit is a companion to the report. Here, we present specific, concrete actions and steps that can be taken by teachers, schools, and districts to rebuild the ladder of opportunity, addressing and reducing the gaps that affect students.


The Videos

Hear from each educator featured in the report and toolkit and take a look into their world.

Read the report

Explore the toolkit

Watch the videos



Case Studies from the High Quality Assessment Project

States are  now  using higher quality  tests to better measure important student skills such as  writing ,  problem-solving and critical thinking. This case study captures advice from teacher leaders who reviewed the quality of the tests and discusses how the  experience affected their  teaching.

This brief also offers input on how states can  engage educators in  similar reviews.

Download Case Studies from the High Quality Assessment Project

Outstanding Teachers Recommend Books to Teach Social Justice

Our Social Justice Book List includes recommendations of fiction and nonfiction to teach concepts of social justice to readers of all ages. The books on this list are recommended by State Teachers of the Year and Finalists. They cover a range of social justice issues, including racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, religious persecution, gender bias and additional forms of othering.

This resource also includes texts for educators seeking to create more equitable learning environments.

Use these new resources for writers.



Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems

As states reconsider their current evaluation systems, this paper offers a unique perspective, the views of some of America’s exemplary teachers: State Teachers of the Year Finalists from every part of the country. Learn these exceptional educators recommend for states seeking to improve current systems.

Read online State of the States’ Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems: A PERSPECTIVE FROM EXEMPLARY TEACHERS

Download Teacher Evaluation and Support -- Full Report

Download Executive Summary--Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems

Social and Emotional Development & Accountability

In this report, we focus on measures of social and emotional learning and their efficacy in educator evaluation. Using literature review and three focus group panels, we examined what the field says about these measures and well as what expert teachers –State and National Teachers of the Year and Finalists for State Teacher of the Year–think.

Download the report: Social and Emotional Development & Accountability

Teacher Researcher Policy Series

Teacher Motivation, Morale and Professional Identity

Dr. David Bosso

May 2017

Research in Professional Learning

Investing in What it Takes to Move From Good to Great:

Exemplary Educators Identify Their Most Important Learning Experiences

For the last 4 years, 10 leading education organizations have collaborated on a study series that includes teacher voice in conversations and research about educator effectiveness. Initially conceptualized by teacher leaders from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) and with their continued input, the From Good to Great study series has asked exemplary teachers to share which professional supports and experiences helped them to increase their effectiveness as educators as they progressed through the various stages of their careers.

This report (the third in the study series) summarizes the findings from a 2016 survey of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) and builds on the results of a similar survey of State and National Teachers of the Year in 2013–2014. What we found largely confirmed the findings across the career continuum in the earlier, smaller-scale survey.

Download Investing in What it Takes to Move From Good to Great (PDF)

Download Investing in What it Takes to Move From Good to Great -- Executive Summary (PDF)

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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