Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Education Commissioner Candice McQueen will leave state service in January to become the CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), a non-profit organization that helps states, districts, and schools attract, develop, and retain high-quality educators.
Haslam appointed McQueen in January 2015, and while serving as commissioner, the state has experienced record high graduation rates of 89.1 percent and the best overall statewide ACT average and best overall ACT participation rate in the state's history at 20.2 and 97 percent respectively. McQueen introduced a new 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. She has 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.
"Candice has worked relentlessly since day one for Tennessee's students and teachers, and under her leadership, Tennessee earned its first "A' rating for the standards and the rigor of the state's assessment after receiving an "F' rating a decade ago," Haslam said. "Candice has raised the bar for both teachers and students across the state, enabling them to rise to their greatest potential. I am grateful for her service and know that she will continue to make an impact on education in Tennessee and across the country."
McQueen's work has touched students in all grade levels. She launched Read to be Ready, a multi-faceted initiative that is focused on improving students' reading abilities in the early grades, which has already shown initial early successes. And a record number of high school students are now taking and earning credit for early college coursework.
"Serving as education commissioner has been the honor of a lifetime, and it has been especially significant to help lead Tennessee's schools in partnership with a governor who has been incredibly focused on improving education for all of our students," Commissioner McQueen said. "I am proud to see what our students and educators have accomplished in these last four years and know we have laid a strong foundation for continued success. Through my new role with NIET, I will continue to be an advocate for Tennessee's teachers and work to make sure every child is in a class led by an excellent teacher every day."
Commissioner McQueen's entire career has been focused on teacher effectiveness -- first as an award-winning teacher; then as a faculty member, department chair, and dean of Lipscomb University's College of Education; and for the last four years as Tennessee's education commissioner.
In her new role as CEO of NIET, she will lead a national organization that works with schools, districts, states and universities to support teachers and school leaders, impacting more than 250,000 educators and 2.5 million students.