CELL honored for teacher quality program

National Institute for Excellence in Teaching

National Institute for Excellence in Teaching photo

NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken (left) presents a TAP Award of Distinction to CELL Executive Director David Dresslar (far right) and Indiana TAP Director Jennifer Oliver on Friday in Los Angeles.

Indiana TAP system now touches 1,500 teachers, 25,000 students

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis is among just three recipients nationwide of this year’s TAP Award of Distinction, which honors organizations for their dedication and commitment to advancing the effectiveness of educators.

CELL Executive Director David Dresslar and TAP Director Jennifer Oliver accepted the award Friday before more than 1,200 educators and policy leaders at the 14th National TAP Conference in Los Angeles.

TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement is America’s leading comprehensive educator effectiveness model that aligns career advancement, professional development, educator evaluation and performance-based compensation. For more than a decade, TAP has worked to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement in high-need urban, rural and suburban schools and districts across the country. It is managed and supported by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET).

TAP in Indiana is administered by CELL as a partnership among NIET, CELL and the Indiana Department of Education. Launched in the 2011-2012 school year, it now impacts 1,500 teachers and 25,000 students.

“I thank Dr. David Dresslar, Jen Oliver and the entire team at CELL for their work to make Indiana TAP successful,” said Gary Stark, president and chief executive officer of NIET. “Teachers have been enthusiastic from the beginning, and CELL has provided the quality guidance and support they need to maximize their potential.”

“The relationship between CELL and NIET has been one of ongoing, strong, professional collaboration over the last four years,” Oliver said. “We’ve benefitted from the NIET experience and have been able to apply many of the organization’s lessons learned as we have launched our initiative in Indiana.”

Added Dresslar, “The greatest accomplishment of TAP in our schools is that everyone else that finds out about it wants to do TAP.”

Embracing the TAP model, each Indiana TAP school has focused on improving learning by working as a team to deliver effective instruction in every classroom. Regular professional development sessions focus on student academic data and specific student needs; teacher leaders guide weekly professional development and provide individual coaching in classrooms; evaluations of teacher practice are followed by feedback and support for improvement; and a performance-based compensation system rewards educators for increased skill and student performance.

“The TAP Rubric is the most rock-solid, the most intense and the most guiding instructional model that I’ve been associated with in my over 30 years as an educator,” notes Paul Kaiser, superintendent of Beech Grove City Schools. “We’ve gone from a very good school district to a great school district, and our test scores are demonstrating that.”

After the first year of TAP implementation, Indiana TAP schools showed measurable student achievement results. According to an Interactive Inc. study in 2012, TAP schools outperformed the control schools on the state test, Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+), in 15 of 21 possible score combinations, a trend that held true across socioeconomic categories and for nearly every ethnicity.

In the elementary grades, ISTEP+ pass rates were three percentage points higher in language, math and combined scores. TAP schools have continued to thrive and educators’ perceptions of TAP’s innovative reform remain high.

CELL is among three TAP Award of Distinction recipients this year. The others are Arizona State University and Texas Tech University.