Washington, D.C.—Lowell Milken, chairman of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and founder of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, today announced that West Goshen Elementary School in Goshen, Indiana, is the recipient of the 2018 TAP Founder's Award. NIET's highest honor, the Award is presented annually to one school for exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of the TAP System—resulting in improvements in educator effectiveness and student achievement growth. It comes with a $50,000 cash prize to be used toward school improvement efforts.
Milken surprised the West Goshen faculty with the Award during a recognition luncheon at the 2018 National TAP Conference in Washington, D.C., before 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. Principal Lori Line accepted the award on the school's behalf.
The TAP System is America's leading comprehensive educator effectiveness model that aligns teacher leadership, daily collaborative professional learning, educator evaluation and support, and opportunities for performance-based compensation. Launched in 1999, the TAP System, as administered through NIET, has partnered with schools, districts, states and universities to ensure that all students have access to talented teachers who will help them succeed.
Implementing the TAP System requires 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.
Before TAP was implemented at West Goshen, the school was labeled a D on the state A-F scale. There was not only a need to address related educational needs, but also to attract and retain talented educators to fill the capacity gap.
According to Principal Line, the TAP System provided staff a common language and structure around accountability and expectations. The teachers developed a no-excuses policy, drilling down into the data for each student and developing paths for success. "My teachers don't make excuses; they find strategies," Line explained. "We look at data, we make a plan, we execute the plan."
Goals are clearly communicated throughout the school. Line articulates them in weekly leadership team meetings with her mentor and master teachers, then joins the teacher leaders in disseminating the information to the rest of the faculty in weekly professional learning groups. Line meets with every classroom to discuss their data, and in fourth and fifth grade, meets with every student to outline expectations for growth on state testing.
Drawing on the TAP System, West Goshen earned its first-ever state-designated A rating in 2016. The school maintained the A in 2017 as well as a value-added growth score of 5—the highest possible score on a 1-5 scale.
"I am pleased to congratulate Principal Line, her faculty and the entire Goshen student body on this well-deserved honor," said Milken. "Your best practices and leadership are serving as a role model for the region, state and nation."
"Our teachers firmly believe that the TAP structures have made them better teachers," Line added. "We all believe that TAP has created a culture of growing and learning for us all. West Goshen is now one of the top schools in the state, and it is because of TAP."
West Goshen was selected among five award finalists from a diverse set of communities across the country. The other finalists were Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Perry Township Schools, Indiana; Cross County Elementary Technology Academy in the Cross County School District, Arkansas; Mansfield High School in DeSoto Parish Schools, Louisiana; and Slaton Junior High School in the Slaton Independent School District, Texas.
TAP Founder's Award recipients are selected without their knowledge by NIET. The honor is based on distinction in the following areas: proficient implementation of TAP’s core elements, student academic growth according to state or federal measures, and notable recognition as a center and resource of best practices.
The prize is funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation and it is to be used toward efforts to improve instruction and academic achievement.
The honor 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 presentation will be available for download at http://www.niet.org/newsroom/photos.
For interviews with Principal Line and NIET leaders, contact Jana Rausch at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 435-9259. For more information, visit http://www.niet.org and 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.