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03.09.12
Lancaster Independent School District Surprised with the TAP Award of Distinction
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NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken (far left) and NIET President and CEO Gary Stark (far right) present the TAP Award of Distinction to the Lancaster Independent School District in Texas. Lancaster Independent School District Superintendent Michael McFarland accepts the award on the district's behalf.

Los Angeles, CA—Leaders of the Lancaster Independent School District, located southeast of Dallas, Texas, were surprised with the TAP Award of Distinction, which honors an organization for its dedication and commitment to TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement. The Award was presented before more than a thousand educators and policy leaders attending a Friday luncheon at the 12th National TAP Conference, Building a System of Teacher Leaders. Superintendent Dr. Michael McFarland accepted the award on the district's behalf.

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 is proven to strengthen teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Lancaster Independent School District adopted the TAP system in the 2007-08 school year with two schools and implementation is now districtwide.

"I commend Dr. McFarland's leadership and commitment to TAP as Lancaster ISD's core strategy to advance teacher quality and student learning," said 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. "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 members led by Superintendent McFarland 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," said McFarland. "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. Each school has selected master and mentor teachers who, along with the principal and other administrators, form theTAP Leadership Team. The hiring process for mentor and master teacher positions in Lancaster ISD has been selective and extensive. Principals and district officials carefully selected interview committees on each campus and recruited talent from inside and outside of the district.

The TAP Leadership Teams are critically important to driving instruction through weekly collaborative professional development and follow-up, classroom observations and pre- and post-conferences with every teacher.

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," said Cosheda Hurd, TAP master teacher at G.W. Carver 6th Grade STEM Learning Center. "TAP teaches teachers how to be better which only allows their students to be better."

Other districts receiving the TAP Award of Distinction are the DeSoto Parish School System in Louisiana, Laurens County School District 56 in South Carolina and Lincoln Consolidated School District in Arkansas.

Photos of the TAP Awards of Distinction are available for download in the TAP website newsroom. 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.

The TAP Recognition Awards are funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation.

Introduced in 1999, TAP impacts more than 20,000 teachers and 200,000 students. For more information on TAP or the 12th National TAP Conference at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, visit www.tapsystem.org. You can also follow the TAP system's live updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tapsystem.

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“In every endeavor, people make the difference, and just one person has the power to make a profound difference in the lives of so many people.” - Lowell Milken