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."
April 19, 2018