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Teacher quality program boosts school ratings

A teacher effectiveness program that has spread to 48 Indiana schools is boosting student achievement and school ratings and also winning support from teachers and administrators, according to a new study examining data from the program’s first two years.

CELL buttonTAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement – administered in Indiana by UIndy’s Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning – is one option available to meet the state requirement that every school adopt a system of evaluation and performance-based compensation for teachers.

The new study prepared for CELL and the Indiana Department of Education finds a clear impact on how schools fared in the state’s A-F rating system. From 2011 to 2013, the first two years of implementation, 40 percent of Indiana TAP schools raised their A-F ratings, compared to only 24 percent of non-TAP schools. In the year prior to implementation, only 14 percent of the TAP schools had improved their ratings.

Among the study’s other findings:

  • Two-thirds of classroom teachers surveyed say TAP makes a positive difference in student achievement.
  • 69 percent of classroom teachers believe TAP has increased the classroom support they receive.
  • Administrators in TAP schools agree almost unanimously that the evaluation process helps teachers improve.

The Indiana schools using TAP include charter and traditional public elementary, middle and high schools, some urban and some rural, all with more than half of their students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. Overall, the program supports more than 1,700 teachers and administrators.

TAP in Indiana is funded primarily by a five-year, $48 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant to the Indiana Department of Education. The state selected CELL to administer and support the program through training sessions, coaching site visits and a network of coordinators who assist schools with implementation.

TAP was launched by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching in 1999 and has proven successful in other states. It includes research-based elements seen as significant changes to how schools have traditionally operated, such as a rigorous teacher evaluation process and the awarding of performance pay to teachers based on both classroom observations and student achievement and growth measures.

The system requires that 75 percent of teachers vote to approve TAP before it can be implemented in a school. It also includes features intended to develop and retain talented teachers in high-need schools, including ongoing professional development and opportunities for career advancement as “mentor” or “master” teachers, who receive higher salaries to help lead school improvement and professional development efforts.

About CELL
Established in 2001, the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis is leading the way in innovative education change in Indiana. By uniting schools, communities, businesses, universities and policymakers, CELL maintains a statewide network of support to connect economic development to academic achievement. CELL is committed to preparing all Hoosier students with the knowledge and skills necessary to attain postsecondary education and succeed in a 21st-century global economy. More information is available at