Press Releases

Dr. Candice McQueen Announced as New CEO of National Institute for Excellence in Teaching

November 15, 2018

Santa Monica, CA—Lowell Milken, chairman and founder of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), announced today that Dr. Candice McQueen has been selected to serve as the organization’s new CEO, beginning mid-January 2019. As part of this transition, NIET will have a new base of operations located in Nashville, Tennessee.

McQueen has served as Tennessee’s education commissioner for the past four years, during which time the state saw record high graduation rates, college-going rates, ACT scores, an increase in teacher support and leadership opportunities and salaries, and an expansive early education initiative to improve student reading proficiency in the state. At NIET, McQueen will lead a talented and diverse staff of educators, researchers and policy experts to further the organization’s mission of ensuring a highly skilled, strongly motivated, and competitively compensated teacher for every classroom in America.

“Candice McQueen understands that highly effective teachers can truly transform the lives of our children, our classrooms, our communities and our future,” said Lowell Milken. “Dr. McQueen’s deep experience in developing and supporting great teachers and her proven leadership in working with so many state and local partners will enable us to expand and strengthen NIET’s work across the country. Dr. McQueen will build on the 250,000 educators, 30,000 teacher leaders and 2.5 million students already impacted by NIET to better develop teacher leaders, increase student achievement and provide greater opportunities for all students. We are so pleased to have her on board and leading us from our new base of operations in Nashville.”

McQueen’s entire career has been focused on strengthening teacher effectiveness and systems of support for teachers. Prior to serving as Tennessee’s education commissioner, McQueen was first an award-winning teacher; then faculty member, department chair, and dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Education in Nashville. Under her leadership as dean from 2008-2015, Lipscomb became one of the highest-rated teacher preparation programs in Tennessee and the nation. McQueen also doubled the size and reach of the college’s graduate programs with new master’s degrees and certificates, the university’s first doctoral program, and additional online and off-campus offerings.

“Serving as Tennessee’s commissioner of education while our state has made such historic gains in student achievement and college readiness has been an incredible privilege,” said McQueen. “But great learning always begins with great teaching. So I am excited for this opportunity to join NIET to build upon our lessons learned in Tennessee and serve teachers and students all across the nation.”

McQueen was appointed Tennessee’s commissioner of education by Governor Bill Haslam in January 2015, and later that year she launched a new, bold strategic plan and vision for schools called Tennessee Succeeds, which has focused on increasing postsecondary and career readiness for all of Tennessee’s 1 million students. While commissioner, McQueen continued the state’s trajectory as one of the fastest improving states in the country in K-12 education, while adding historic gains in science, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the nation’s report card.

Under McQueen’s leadership, Tennessee students posted their highest graduation rate in history at 89.1% and best overall statewide ACT average and best overall ACT participation rate at 20.2 and 97% respectively. A record number of students are now taking and earning credit for early college coursework and then going to college, and Tennessee earned its first “A” rating for its standards and the rigor of its annual student assessment after receiving an “F” rating a decade ago.

NIET’s work began in Tennessee in the 2006-07 school year. After the state teacher evaluation pilot in the 2010-11 school year, the Tennessee Department of Education selected NIET’s teaching standards and evaluation process as the basis for the classroom observation portion of the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM). Since training 5,000 evaluators prior to TEAM’s launch, NIET has continued to provide ongoing support to the Tennessee Department of Education in the form of a statewide training portal available to every Tennessee teacher as well as training, technical assistance and resources for state-level experts supporting districts.

“Thousands of children in Louisiana, as well as in states across the country, benefit from the NIET model and the skills and support it provides teachers every day in America‘s schools. I can think of no better leader to expand on that track record than Candice McQueen,” said John White, Louisiana state superintendent of education, and current chair of Chiefs for Change, a national group of innovative state and district education chiefs from across the nation. “She is not just a veteran educator who has worked in higher education and K-12 education alike, but she is also a visionary leader with a unique understanding of both quality classroom teaching and the systems necessary to make quality teaching possible for millions of students. The pairing of this excellent leader with this excellent organization will form a force for good in American education for years to come.”

About NIET

NIET is a national nonprofit organization that for two decades has been committed to ensuring a highly skilled, strongly motivated and competitively compensated teacher for every classroom in America. To accomplish this mission, the organization partners with states, districts, schools and universities to implement educator effectiveness models, as well as offer comprehensive reform through school improvement solutions, educator effectiveness and leadership development and educator preparation. NIET also draws from the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, a model created in 1999 to restructure and revitalize the teaching profession. NIET has staff across the country, including in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Phoenix. To learn more about NIET, please visit