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March 06, 2018

2018 TAP Founder's Award Finalists Announced

Five schools from Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas to be presented with $10,000

Winner to receive $50,000

Santa Monica, Calif.—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today announced the five finalists for the TAP Founder's Award, the organization'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 to educator effectiveness and student achievement growth. The winner will receive a $50,000 cash prize.

Each finalist will receive a plaque and $10,000 during a luncheon on Friday, March 23, 2018, at the 18th National TAP Conference in Washington, D.C., attended by 1,000 top educators and education leaders from across the country. Lowell Milken will announce the winner at the end of the luncheon.

The finalists are:

"Coming from a diverse set of communities, these five schools embody the tenets of school leadership and serve as powerful models of sustained student achievement growth," says Milken. "I congratulate Lincoln, Cross County, Mansfield, Slaton and West Goshen on their tireless efforts to strengthen their teacher forces and prepare students to be informed, productive citizens."

tap founders award finalists 2018

Pictured from left to right
Top: Mansfield High School, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, West Goshen Elementary School
Bottom: Cross County Elementary School, Slaton Junior High School

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, as administered through NIET, partners with schools, districts, universities and states.   

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.

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. 

Funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the $50,000 prize is to be used toward efforts to improve instruction and academic achievement. The 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.

Photos from the TAP Founder's Award finalists' recognition luncheon on March 23 will be available for download at

For interviews with the TAP Founder's Award finalists during the conference or to attend, contact Jana Rausch at or (310) 435-9259. For more information, visit Follow conference news on Facebook at NIETteach and Twitter @NIETteach or via #tapcon18.     

Based on the knowledge and experience gained from two decades 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, teacher leader 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)