West Goshen Named Finalist for TAP Founder’s Award

West Goshen among five schools nationwide in running for $50,000 TAP Founder’s Award

Santa Monica, Calif.—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today announced that West Goshen Elementary School in Goshen Community Schools, Indiana, is one of five finalists for the 2018 TAP Founder’s Award, NIET’s top school recognition. Created by NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken, the TAP Founder’s Award is presented annually to one school for exceptional implementation of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement—resulting in improvements to educator effectiveness and student achievement growth.

The TAP System is America’s leading comprehensive educator effectiveness model that connects 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.

The TAP Founder’s Award comes with a $50,000 prize, funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, to be used toward school improvement efforts. All five Award finalists will be honored at a luncheon on Friday, March 23, 2018, during the 18th Annual National TAP Conference in Washington D.C., before 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. The winner will be announced at the end of the luncheon.

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West Goshen Elementary School

Each finalist will receive a plaque and a $10,000 reward. West Goshen joins 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.

The finalists have been selected because of their exemplary implementation of the TAP System in meeting the goal of enhancing instructional skill and student achievement. These schools structure school leadership teams of master and mentor teachers as well as administrators to identify educational targets and develop strategies to meet them. The teacher leaders guide weekly professional learning based on individual teacher and student needs, field-test strategies with groups of students and coach fellow faculty.

Accompanying this support are an educator evaluation system and a compensation system that rewards educators for refining their craft and improving student performance, and for taking on new leadership roles and responsibilities.

Inside West Goshen Elementary School

In 2008, Goshen Community Schools adopted the TAP System district-wide in an effort to increase educator effectiveness. Elkhart County, home to West Goshen Elementary School and located in northern Indiana southeast of South Bend, was one of the hardest hit in the nation by the economic recession. As the community rebuilt itself, Goshen Community Schools sought to be ahead of the curve when it came to equipping its students for the challenges of tomorrow.

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 Lori 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 explains. “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.

These strategies through TAP led West Goshen to 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.

“What is exciting at West Goshen is the enthusiasm of the teachers,” says Lowell Milken. “Principal Line and her leadership team are well-versed in disseminating proven instructional practices and have deep experience implementing them firsthand. In turn, all educators want to take an active part in West Goshen’s learning, and for that, their work is paying off in dividends.”

“Our teachers firmly believe that the TAP structures have made them better teachers,” Line adds. “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.”

Congratulations to the staff and students at West Goshen!

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.

The TAP Founder’s 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 http://www.niet.org/newsroom/photos.

For interviews during the conference or to attend, contact Jana Rausch at jrausch@niet.org or (310) 435-9259. For more information, visit www.niet.org. Follow conference news on Facebook at NIETteach and Twitter @NIETteach or via #tapcon18.