Can Schools Improve?

A few couples were here with us several weeks ago and, as often happens when parents get together, the conversation turned to the subject of our local school system.

One of our friends is a teacher at the local Junior High and he provided some insights in the frustrations and limitations that teachers experience as they strive to do the best job possible. He enjoys his job, he told us, loves the kids and feels that the parents and administration are supportive. However he expressed the disappointment that the teaching staff lacks a team atmosphere which could boost teachers’ morale and confidence.

Last night the same group of friends got together again and Dan, the teacher, mentioned that his school was about to become a part of a new experimental program designed to address the kinds of issues that we had discussed. The program is called TAP — System for Teacher and Student Advancement and its goals are to increase educational productivity in schools throughout the United States.

TAP was conceived and is being implemented nationwide by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation. The Milken Foundation has initiated a number of different projects to advance education throughout American schools and the TAP program is one of its most ambitious endeavors.

TAP is operated and monitored by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). It recognizes that providing students with a quality educational experience opens up the world of future employment and higher education by giving them the tools that they need to reach their potential.

The TAP program involves peer mentoring among teachers along with a system for bonus pay and professional advances. These elements create an atmosphere of satisfaction among the teaching staff which translates to student achievement. Teachers are evaluated based on students’ performances. TAP creates the kinds of incentives that encourage a successful education system.

This post is has been contributed by Jerry Rand.

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