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March 01, 2017

Alice M. Harte Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana, Named 2017 TAP Founder's Award Finalist

Harte among six schools nationwide in running for NIET’s top honor, which comes with $50,000 cash prize

Santa Monica, Calif.—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today announced that InspireNOLA's Alice M. Harte Charter School is among six schools from across the country chosen as a finalist for the TAP Founder's Award, NIET’s highest honor. Created by NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken, the TAP Founder's Award is presented annually to one school for exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement—resulting in improvements in student achievement, among other goals.

The TAP System is America’s leading comprehensive educator effectiveness model that aligns teacher leadership, daily job-embedded professional development, educator evaluation and support, and opportunities for performance-based compensation. Introduced in 1999, the TAP System supports schools, districts, universities and states to advance educator effectiveness and student learning.   

Funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the TAP Founder's Award comes with a $50,000 prize to be used toward efforts to improve instruction and academic achievement. The Award finalists will be recognized on Friday, March 24, 2017, during the 17th Annual National TAP Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, before 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. The Award winner will be announced on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

Each finalist will receive a plaque and $10,000. Harte joins Barrera Veterans Elementary School in the Somerset Independent School District, Texas; Dodson Branch School in Jackson County Schools, Tennessee; Hmong College Preparatory Academy (High School) in St. Paul, Minnesota; G.W. Carver Primary School in Ascension Public Schools, Louisiana; and West Goshen Elementary School in Goshen Community Schools, Indiana.

Each finalist implements the TAP System by establishing leadership teams, made up of master and mentor teachers as well as administrators, who drive instruction. These teacher leaders guide weekly professional development and provide individual coaching in classrooms.

TAP's teacher leadership opportunities and professional development are complemented by systems of educator evaluation, feedback and support, as well as a compensation system that rewards educators for increased skill and student performance, and for taking on new leadership roles and responsibilities.

Inside Alice M. Harte Charter School:
"One team, one heartbeat" is the motto at Alice M. Harte Charter School, where teachers are celebrated, students are rewarded, and everyone is unified around the job of "teaching and growing kids academically and in life," according to Principal Robert Hill.

In addition to weekly professional development meetings and the regular feedback and observation that goes along with adopting the TAP System, mentor teachers attend field trips to train in testing instructional strategies and educator evaluation. The school hosts Data Days throughout the year, during which teachers interpret available data and make necessary adjustments to their teaching based on the trends. Harte supports cultural incentives, too, such as monthly "Power Prizes" for teachers that include car washes and lunches. These events boost morale and unify all educators as a closely knit family.

"Harte has created a positive school culture around real-time data and best practices, and the hard work of teachers and students has paid off exponentially," says Lowell Milken. "I commend them on their significant results and continued commitment to excellence."

The collaboration among staff is essential in goal-setting and extensively reviewing data to make important instructional decisions. For example, 2015-16 Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) data indicated that Harte students were struggling with mathematical reasoning. Through TAP’s structure of focused meetings and complementary support in the classroom, teachers implemented the Restate, Answer, Cite evidence, and Explain (RACE) strategy. Master teachers guided the institution of the strategy, and all teachers analyzed student work to track their progress. As a result, grade levels improved their LEAP score. For example, fourth-graders improved their strength in understanding from 43% in 2015 to 62% in 2016. Seventh-graders moved from 45% in 2015 to 58% in 2016.

Hill notes that the support and feedback teachers are receiving via TAP are impacting their progress. "The culture has shifted through a forum of knowing how to improve," he says.

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TAP Founder's Award recipients are selected without their knowledge by NIET, which manages and supports the TAP System. The honor is based on distinction in the following areas: proficient implementation of TAP’s four core elements, student academic growth according to state or federal measures, and notable recognition as a center and resource of best practices. 

The TAP Founder's Award yields benefits that will strengthen the individual school and support its teachers. This is done by means of prominent public recognition and by opportunities to substantively interact on issues of educator effectiveness and student learning with leaders from government, business and academia.

For more information about the 17th TAP Conference and the 2017 TAP Founder's Award announcement on March 25, visit http://www.niet.org. For interviews during the conference or to attend, contact Jana Rausch at jrausch@niet.org or (310) 435-9259. 

Based on the knowledge and experience gained from over a decade of on-the-ground implementation with TAP, combined with the growing demand for proven reforms in teacher and principal effectiveness, NIET supports schools, districts, universities and states with educator evaluation training, evaluator certification modules linked to learning platforms and human capital management systems as well as tools and resources for educator preparation. 


Media Contact:
Jana Rausch
Communications Director
(310) 570-4774 (office)
(310) 435-9259 (cell)
jrausch@niet.org