What is TAP?

More Teachers, Better Teachers

TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement is a comprehensive school reform system that provides powerful opportunities for career advancement, professional growth, instructionally focused accountability and competitive compensation for educators.

Tap Elements of Success

TAP's goal is to draw more talented people to the teaching profession — and keep them there — by making it more attractive and rewarding to be a teacher. Through the implementation of four interrelated key elements, teachers are improving their instruction and the achievement of their students. The four elements are:

Tap Elements of Success

Career Advancement

TAP allows teachers to pursue a variety of positions throughout their careers — career, mentor and master teacher — depending upon their interests, abilities and accomplishments. As teachers move up the ranks, their qualifications, roles and responsibilities increase — and so does their compensation. This allows good teachers to advance professionally without having to leave the classroom. It also creates expert teacher leaders within schools to provide support to other teachers.

Master and mentor teachers are chosen through a competitive, rigorous, performance-based selection process. Master and mentor teachers must have expert curricular knowledge, outstanding instructional skills and the ability to work effectively with other adults. They take on additional responsibilities and authority, and are required to have a longer work year. Master and mentor teachers are held to a different performance standard than the career teachers in their school, and are compensated accordingly.

Along with the principal, master and mentor teachers are part of the school’s TAP Leadership Team and are responsible for setting specific annual student learning goals. They oversee all TAP activities aimed at meeting these goals including extensive group and individual coaching and support. Masters and mentors, along with the principal, also conduct teacher evaluations that are tied to teacher performance awards. TAP provides training and certification services to prepare principals, masters and mentors to conduct professional growth activities and teacher evaluations effectively.

Professional Development

Unlike the traditional model of professional development that is common in most schools, TAP provides teachers with a system of professional development that is ongoing, job-embedded, collaborative, student centered and led by expert instructors. TAP restructures the school schedule to provide time during the regular school day for teachers to meet, learn, plan, mentor and share with other teachers. This common time allows teachers to constantly improve the quality of their instruction and hence, increase their students’ academic achievement. Further, teachers learn new instructional strategies and have greater opportunities to collaborate, both of which enable them to become more effective teachers.

Ongoing Applied Professional Growth in TAP schools focuses on identified needs based on instructional issues that specific teachers face with specific students. Teachers use data to target these areas of need, instead of trying to implement the latest fad in professional development.

TAP professional growth includes cluster groups, individual coaching and classroom-based support.

Cluster groups meet for one to two hours weekly during contract time in grade-alike or subject-alike groups. Clusters are led by expert instructors in the school — the master and/or mentor teachers — and their activities are focused on instructional practices as determined by student needs.

Further, the TAP career path establishes a structure where master and mentor teachers provide ongoing classroom-based support. This includes team teaching, conducting classroom demonstration lessons, coaching, giving regular feedback on specific teaching and learning innovations and conducting evaluations and post-conferences.


TAP provides a comprehensive system for evaluating teachers that rewards them for how well they teach their students. Teachers are held accountable for meeting the TAP Teaching Skills, Knowledge and Responsibilities Performance Standards, research-based standards based on twenty-six indicators and operationalized against a five-point scale rubric. Teachers are also responsible for the academic growth of their students.

Each teacher is evaluated four to six times a year, during announced and unannounced observations by multiple, trained and certified evaluators using the TAP Teaching Skills, Knowledge and Responsibilities Performance Standards . Prior to announced evaluations, evaluators meet with teachers for a pre-conference to discuss the upcoming evaluation. All evaluations are followed up with a post-conference session between the observed teacher and the evaluator to discuss reinforcements and refinements intended to help the teacher strengthen his/her instructional practice.

Every teacher is also evaluated individually based on how much learning growth the students in his or her classroom have achieved during the school year. Further, all teachers in the school are evaluated collectively based on the learning growth of all students in the school. Through this structure, TAP makes it possible to consider multiple measures of teacher effectiveness.

TAP also provides ongoing training, mentoring and classroom support during the school day to help teachers meet these accountability standards, as well as providing financial incentives for success.

Performance Compensation

TAP changes the current pay system by providing additional compensation to teachers based on new roles and responsibilities, their accomplishments in the classroom and the performance of their students. The system also encourages districts to offer additional compensation to those who teach in “hard-to-staff” subjects and schools. As a result, teacher salaries are determined by more than years of teaching experience and professional development credits.

Salary augmentations are given to master and mentor teachers because these teachers take on more responsibility and authority, and work a longer school year than the typical classroom teacher.

All teachers in TAP schools are eligible for financial awards based upon the average of the scores they earn on multiple evaluations of their classroom teaching, as well as their classroom-level achievement growth and school-level achievement growth, both of which are measured using a value-added model.

It is recommended that performance awards are allocated according to the following breakdown:

  1. 50% Teacher evaluations based on Teaching Skills, Knowledge and Responsibilities Performance Standards
  2. 30% Individual classroom achievement growth
  3. 20% School-wide achievement growth