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Tenn Education Commissioner takes national non-profit post

November 28, 2018

Candice McQueen

By Tamas Mondovics

National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) names Dr. Candice McQueen as CEO Lowell Milken, chairman, and founder of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), recently announced that Tennessee Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen was selected to serve as the organization’s new CEO. McQueen is not going far. According to the NIET release, as part of this transition, the non-profit organization will have a new base of operations located in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I will be leaving my role as commissioner in early January, and Gov. Haslam will name an interim commissioner soon,” McQueen said, adding that while she excited about this new opportunity, it is hard to leave her team. “Each of you is an incredible and needed leader in this work, whether you are supporting our assessment program, managing federal and state grants, creating new opportunities for students to prepare for college and careers, serving students who are in our most vulnerable populations, developing new tools and materials for educators, overseeing our finances and operations, or leading our school improvement work. You are laser-focused on doing the right thing for Tennessee’s students every single day – and I take heart in knowing you will continue this good work in the months and years to come. I look forward to continuing to support your work even as I move into this new role with NIET,” she said in a statement announcing her departure.

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 is said to 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 NIET chairman and founder, 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.”

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.

“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.”

While overall successful, McQueen’s time at the TDOE helm was not without challenges, including the issue of the state’s TNReady statewide assessment test, which became one of the most-discussed topics needing fixing. Problems have reportedly persisted, including the statement that TNReady testing issues were the result of a “deliberate attack,” which was later said to be an unauthorized change by Questar, the testing vendor to its systems during the testing. Officials spoke highly of McQueen’s efforts to ensure TNReady was a success.

McQueen will begin her new role as NIET CEO, in mid-January 2019, and spoke highly of her former position and her colleagues when she said, “You have made the last four years an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am honored to have served our 1 million students alongside you.”