TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement uses terminology unique to the system. Following are a few terms sure to come up when talking about TAP.
Academic Attainment vs. Academic Growth
Academic attainment is the level of achievement a student reaches at a point in time (e.g., on the state standardized test given at the end of any given school year). Academic growth is the amount of academic progress a student makes over a period of time (e.g., on the state test given over several grades). TAP uses academic growth when evaluating teachers and awarding bonus compensation.
Under TAP, career teachers are comparable to traditional classroom teachers at non-TAP schools. A career teacher collaborates with master and mentor teachers for team teaching, lesson planning, and expertise development in all areas of instruction.
A cluster group is the basic unit for teacher professional growth in a TAP school. Clusters are professional learning communities for sharing instructional strategies designed to meet student needs. Cluster group work helps teachers by connecting research-based, data-driven best practices to daily classroom instruction. Each cluster group is co-led by a master and mentor teacher and typically includes four to eight members. Cluster groups meet during the school day for about 50 minutes per week during contract time.
Coaching is ongoing, hands-on support provided by experienced master and mentor teachers to improve instructional practice and advance student learning. Coaching is confidential, non-evaluative, cooperative, and differentiated according to teachers' individual needs.
Evaluators conference with teachers prior to and after each announced evaluation. Before TAP evaluations, evaluators conduct a brief pre-conference with the teacher to discuss the lesson. Following the evaluation, the evaluator leads a post-conference session with the teacher based on the instructional rubric. Post-conferences focus on one reinforcement area, where the lesson observed demonstrated excellence, and one refinement area, where the teacher will focus on improving.
Master teachers are former classroom teachers that have been highly effective in implementing instructional strategies. They are fully released from classroom duties to coordinate observation schedules, coaching schedules, and other professional development opportunities to support classroom teachers.
Mentor teachers are classroom teachers that have displayed a high level of effectiveness, credibility with teachers and administrators, the ability to multitask, and the interpersonal skills needed to work with teachers. Mentor teachers are released from the classroom for at least five hours each week for TAP responsibilities.
TAP Rubric or SKR
TAP teachers are accountable to the Teaching Skills, Knowledge and Responsibilities Performance Standards, also known as the TAP Instructional Rubric. The rubric outlines clearly defined standards that promote best practices and apply to all content areas. Teachers advance their skills and become well-prepared for evaluations through TAP rubric training and cluster meetings. SKR scores determine 50 percent of teacher performance awards.
TAP measures student performance based on the achievement gains (value-added) a student makes over time (during the school year) rather than a snapshot of his/her performance on a standardized test. This means that regardless of where students start the year academically, teachers are evaluated and rewarded based upon how much their students improve, not by how high they score on standardized tests. Value-added analysis estimates the impact schools and teachers have on student learning isolated from other contributing factors such as family characteristics and socioeconomic background.