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April 11, 2014

Attracting Top Teachers to High-Need Schools

Ascension Parish Schools, Louisiana, Cited in New CAP Report

Every student deserves access to a highly effective teacher.  However, research consistently shows that in too many cases, poor students and students of color are getting short shrift. In a report released today, Looking at the Best Teachers and Who They Teach, the Center for American Progress (CAP) uses new teacher evaluation data in Louisiana and Massachusetts to illustrate where the problems lie and offer solutions that districts can use to reverse this trend. 

According to the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), the achievement gap was reduced by 75% over the five-year period.  The average eligibility of Ascension TAP students on free or reduced-price lunch was 88% — 22% higher than the statewide average: 

Ascension Parish Schools in Louisiana is featured as a district that has succeeded in providing its high-need students the same access to strong teachers as its more affluent students.  The parish does so by using TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement to attract effective educators to high-need schools, and to help all teachers in these schools to improve their practice and thrive. 

Through the TAP System, high-need schools put into place mentor and master teachers who work alongside the principal to drive instructional improvements schoolwide; institute weekly professional development tailored to specific student and teacher needs; establish a complementary teacher evaluation system that provides meaningful feedback to teachers in their classrooms; and compensate educators for new roles as well as increased skill and student performance. 

Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrice Pujol emphasized that the goal is to design structures to recruit and retain effective teachers in high-need schools over the long term.

"We didn't accomplish this equity by suddenly just identifying effective teachers and moving them to our high-need schools," Pujol said.  "We changed our entire approach to attracting, supporting, training, promoting, and retaining talent in our highest-need schools. 

"Our high-need schools have become attractive places to work for high-achieving teachers who know they will be supported as they help students to make big learning gains.  They know they will have ongoing professional learning and new leadership roles that engage them as a part of the leadership team, which is empowered to drive change in the school.  Their commitment and effort are rewarded by seeing students succeed, further building collective efficacy across the entire faculty.  Through this process, they grow and are recognized and compensated as professionals."

The report's recommendations highlight practices that are used in Ascension Parish and other TAP districts, calling on schools and districts to:

  • Identify high-quality teachers by improving data about teaching effectiveness.
  • Use data on the effectiveness of teachers to determine the distribution of these teachers across schools and classrooms.
  • Retain effective teachers by reforming career and compensation systems.
  • Increase the reach of highly effective teachers by creating roles for master and mentor teachers to support and coach their colleagues.
  • Encourage effective teachers to move to disadvantaged schools through incentives such as differentiated compensation.
  • Improve the effectiveness of all teachers through proven professional development.
  • Improve recruitment of new teachers, with the goal of hiring an effective teacher workforce.

Read the full report

Learn more about TAP

Initiatives of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching are improving the educational experience for more than 175,000 teachers and 2.4 million students.  For more information about NIET, visit