Teacher quality system sees first-year success


project-based-learningA teacher effectiveness system launched in 44 Indiana schools last year—and administered by UIndy’s Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning—was linked to higher student test scores and won widespread support from teachers and administrators, according to a new study. Dubbed TAP, the system is one option being explored in response to the new state law requiring every Indiana school to adopt a system of evaluation- and performance-based compensation for teachers. The state Department of Education, which received $48 million in federal funding for a five-year TAP initiative, selected UIndy’s CELL to administer and support the program. CELL conducts training sessions, organizes site visits, and employs a statewide network of coordinators who help schools implement TAP.

The new study, commissioned by the state and conducted by Interactive Inc., compared TAP schools to other schools and found that:
—on ISTEP+, the TAP schools outperformed the control schools 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.
—79 percent of career teachers agreed that “TAP has improved instructional practices of teachers at this school,” and about two-thirds agreed that “Student performance has improved since TAP was implemented at this school.”
—88 percent of administrators would prefer to work at TAP schools.

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

Thumbs up from teachers

The system requires that 75 percent of teachers vote to approve TAP before it can be implemented in a school. It 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 lead their schools’ professional development efforts. The 44 schools that launched TAP last year included charter and traditional public schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in Indianapolis, Hammond, Goshen, Evansville, Marion, and other communities. All participating schools had more than half of their students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. Two more schools have implemented the program this fall, bringing the total to 46. Interactive will use the first-year results as a baseline for continued study of TAP’s effectiveness throughout the life of the five-year grant from the state’s Teacher Incentive Fund.