Even though I’m low on time and energy as I enter the last phase of my pregnancy I’ve been keeping an eye on the situation in our nation’s schools and find increasing cause for concern. With two school-aged girls now in the system and a third on the horizon, it’s important to me to monitor the developments. News reports indicate that class sizes continue to grow and increasing student needs strain the system.
One strategy for positive school reform which is gaining attention is the “System for Teacher and Student Advancement (TAP) which aims to attract and retain talented teachers through professional development and motivational strategies. The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), a recognized teacher-support organization, now manages the system which was founded by Lowell Milken close to 20 years ago. The system is based on solid research with goals that include providing teachers with opportunities for professional growth, peer mentoring, fair evaluations aimed at improving teaching skills and identification of new teaching strategies.
The TAP system includes a variety of elements which contribute to its success in supporting educators and improving teaching skills. These include finding strategies which will allow excellent teachers to pursue career advancement while they remain in the classroom where their experience and know-how are needed. In addition, the TAP program encourages the restructuring of the school day so that teachers can sit together to plan, learn new instructional strategies, support each other and exchange ideas.
The TAP program expects teachers to meet the TAP Teaching Skills, Knowledge and Responsibility Standards. Their students are tested to ascertain academic growth and teachers who meet these criteria become eligible for higher pay. In addition, under the TAP system, teachers receive compensation for their classroom performance, their students’ performance and the roles and responsibilities that the teachers accept upon themselves