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Lancaster ISD Receives National TAP Award of Distinction

Leaders of the Lancaster Independent School District were surprised with the National TAP Award of Distinction, which honors an organization for its dedication and commitment to TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement. The district received the award before more than a thousand educators and policy leaders attending a Friday luncheon at the 12th National TAP Conference in Los Angeles, CA.
 
“The Lancaster school district as a whole received a value added score of a 4.5 which means that the students in our schools gained significantly more than one year’s growth,” Superintendent Dr. Michael D. McFarland said. “This [award] provides evidence that out intentional efforts at improving student achievement have catapulted us toward excellence.”
 
TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement is a revolutionary education reform that offers teachers opportunities for career advancement, ongoing job-embedded professional growth, educator evaluation and performance-based compensation. The implementation of TAP's comprehensive elements strengthens teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Lancaster ISD adopted the TAP system in the 2007-08 school year with two schools and implementation is now district-wide.
“I commend Dr. McFarland's leadership and commitment to TAP as Lancaster ISD's core strategy to advance teacher quality and student learning,” Dr. Gary Stark, president and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, the non-profit public charity that manages and supports the TAP system and presents the TAP Award of Distinction said. “Student achievement growth validates the district's efforts to stay true to the TAP model.”
 
Lancaster ISD has experienced significant growth since the implementation of the TAP system. In 2006, leaders needed a systemic education reform to meet the needs of their 6,000 students. With support from the Texas Education Agency, the local school board, district administrators, teachers and community came together to utilize TAP as the district’s core strategy to advance teacher effectiveness and student growth.
 
“I was introduced to TAP when I arrived to the district, and quickly realized it could lead us toward a transformation,” Dr. Michael D. McFarland said. “TAP is the system of professional development and accountability that we need in order to ensure that our kids become college-and-career-ready.”
 
From day one and throughout TAP's expansion, Lancaster ISD has implemented the system with a high level of fidelity to reach this goal. For the 2010-11 school year, the district average for value-added student gains was greater than 4.5 on a 5-point scale, signifying above average growth results compared to similar schools in Texas. According to the Texas Education Agency, five of the seven TAP schools received a “Recognized” rating.
 
“TAP works,” Cosheda Hurd, TAP master teacher at George Washington Carver 6th Grade STEM Learning Center, said. “TAP teaches teachers how to be better, which only allows their students to be better.”
 
Increasing student achievement is one of the top focuses for Lancaster. Sonja Barnes, Lead Master Teacher at Lancaster Elsie Robertson Middle School, said that TAP is a wonderful vehicle to help the district accomplish this goal. 
 
“TAP aides in student achievement because the focus is on improving the most important person in the school— the classroom teacher,” she said. “Research clearly shows that improving teacher quality is the one of the main factors that contributes to student success.”
 
The TAP Award of Distinction profile video for Lancaster Independent School District is available on the TAP website videos page at and on the TAP system's YouTube channel. Click the link to view. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT8nJCOhVr4