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March 01, 2017

G.W. Carver Primary School in Ascension Public Schools, Louisiana, Receives Recognition as TAP Founder's Award Finalist

Carver 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 G.W. Carver Primary School in Ascension Public Schools, Louisiana, 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. Carver joins Alice M. Harte Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana; Barrera Veterans Elementary School in Somerset Independent School District, Texas; Dodson Branch School in Jackson County Schools, Tennessee; Hmong College Preparatory Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota; 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 G.W. Carver Primary School:
Since implementing the TAP System in 2012, Carver has been transformed into a place where teachers are motivated to lead and students are energized to maximize their potential. Partly due to the leadership opportunities that TAP affords, Carver—which serves an 88% economically disadvantaged student population—has been able to attract certified teachers to fill all 30-plus positions. What's more, every teacher is a product of TAP's career ladder continuum; master teachers are former mentor teachers and mentor teachers are former career (classroom) teachers.

According to Principal Latatia Johnson, growing and promoting talent from within has had a "huge positive cultural effect" on teacher retention; in 2015-16, the school had a 91% retention rate and staff anticipates that the rate will increase.

With a strong and stable team in place, Johnson and her staff were ready to tackle educational challenges. The school TAP leadership team embraced the "we go first" philosophy: members guide the weekly professional development meetings, model strategies and field-test them with groups of students. They collaborate with faculty on assessing what works, what doesn't and how to improve. Then the faculty as a whole has the credibility of the leadership team to pursue strategies and take risks. The students, in turn, want to be a part of the action.

"I commend Principal Johnson and the entire staff at Carver for their dedication to strengthening teaching to achieve the ultimate goal of student learning,” says Lowell Milken. "Faculty and students have every reason to be proud of their achievements, and their continued persistence to reach even greater heights."

The success of their approach is reflected in their effort to raise Carver's third-grade English Language Arts Academic Index. They identified this need after assessing 2015-16 Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) data, and got right to work identifying essential standards, creating criteria for what mastery looked and sounded like for each standard, and developed rigorous assessments that met them. Mentor teachers implemented the process with masters' support, analyzing student work along the way. This method, coupled by teaching in new state-of-the-art facility, contributed to achieving their goal to increase their AI by more than eight points, moving them from a C to a B letter grade. The school also received a level 3 value-added growth score on a 1-4 scale, signifying that it exceeded growth targets when compared to similar schools across the state.

"TAP is a driving force behind our continued mission to ensure every child is successful in an ever-changing world," said Johnson. "Our teachers are empowered, our students are empowered; we’re changing lives."

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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