What is a NIC?

A Networked Improvement Community, or NIC, for short is a scientific learning community.  Oklahoma Excel Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) are comprised of teacher teams from all over the state who work together to tackle relevant problems of practice.  NICs, regardless of their content area, all have four distinguishing features:  

  • FOCUS ON A WELL-SPECIFIED AIM- NICs often share many of the same attributes as other learning communities (PLCs, Communities of Practice).  However, one feature that sets NICs apart is the fact that all members of the NIC are working towards the same clearly defined and measurable outcome. 
  • GUIDED BY A THEORY OF IMPROVEMENT- Unlike other learning communities, the work of a NIC is guided by a theory of improvement. The change ideas (i.e. instructional strategies) selected are high leverage, culturally responsive, equitable, and have an evidence base and they are designed to push on the major levers with the system.  
  • DISCIPLINED INQUIRY THROUGH IMPROVEMENT SCIENCE- NIC participants engage in cycles of continuous improvement called PDSA (plan, do, study, act). These cycles guide participants through testing change ideas, collecting data, and refining strategies as needed. 
  • CENTRALIZED COORDINATION- Due to the fact that NIC teams are often widely distributed, careful coordination is needed to ensure the collective efforts of each team are maximized. A centralized hub is utilized to ensure that all of the NIC teams are aligned in their efforts.


                                                                                 Oklahoma Excel serves as the "Network Hub"



At the heart of any network is a desire to solve problems.  We believe the people who are best positioned to solve many of the challenges facing our schools are the very teachers and leaders who work there.  Oklahoma Excel aims to support teachers in solving challenges they face in their classrooms.  We are one of several networks across the country.  Check out some of the videos below to learn about other networks! 



Learn how teachers in a Washington state NIC are supporting EL students during science instruction.


Teachers in this Tennessee network work on increasing literacy scores across the state. 

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Last updated on April 14, 2021