It is with pride that we congratulate Abraham Lincoln Elementary School on being named one of the five finalists for the 2018 TAP Founder’s Award by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.
Created Lowell Milken, the institute’s chairman and TAP founder, the award is given annually to one school for exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement – resulting in improvements to educator effectiveness and student achievement growth.
The honor comes with a $50,000 cash prize, funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, to be used toward school improvement efforts. The winner will be named Friday, March 23, during the 18th annual TAP Conference in Washington, D.C., before 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders.
The award is especially thrilling for our district because Southport Elementary earned the recognition in 2016.
With a diverse student population, Lincoln Elemenatary has maintained a state-designated A rating because of its focus on developing teacher talent and meeting the needs of students.
Through the TAP System our staff has been able to address educational challenges, including a large student population, a language learning curve, a 20 to 30 percent student mobility rate and Title I status – a designation that supports students from low-income families. TAP’s targeted, daily professional learning and constant attention to data led staff to form a coherent vision of student success.
According to Principal Whitney Wilkowski, the biggest shift has been in identifying and tracking what the school needs to do to move every student. Differentiating instruction is particularly essential for Lincoln’s teachers. New educators receive wraparound support through personalized coaching by expert school-based teachers trained in the TAP System.
The system allows teachers to merge their core teaching knowledge with understanding factors such as poverty and mobility. Understanding those influences are necessary for establishing a growth-oriented classroom environment and designing and planning instruction that respects students’ differences.
Students respond positively to this approach. Because all students come from different starting points, they rely on data from teachers to see how they are progressing. Allowing the students to see their growth gets them excited about the improvement they achieve. “I grew by XX percent” is commonly used by students to characterize their progress.
The students’ success has also become a community affair at Lincoln. Families participate in math family night to understand what and how their children are learning. Students, themselves, drive these conversations. Teachers host visits for other Indiana schools that want to come and observe Lincoln’s success. Also, faculty members have met with state legislators as well as engaged in greater state policy discussions.
The implementation of TAP at Lincoln and Southport elementaries has inspired us to implement TAP best practices districtwide.