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Teachers College partner school districts receive education awards

TAP District of Distinction winners
March 24, 2015

For their positive improvements in teacher advancement and student achievement, Avondale and Osborn Elementary School Districts were honored with TAP Districts of Distinction Awards at the 15th National TAP Conference in Los Angeles on March 14.

Both Phoenix-area school districts have been partnering with Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in the Arizona Ready-for-Rigor Project (AZRfR), a five-year Teacher Incentive Fund federal grant that utilizes TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement to improve educator effectiveness in 58 high-need schools across the state.

“The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is proud of the academic and educator accomplishments and national recognition of the Avondale and Osborn School Districts,” said Virginia McElyea, executive director of the AZRfR Project. “Both of these districts have shown tremendous progress through the tireless work and dedication of their staff from their leadership teams to the classroom teachers to the students themselves.”

“I congratulate all of this year's award recipients for their hard work and dedication to advancing educator effectiveness and student achievement growth in their communities,” said Gary Stark, president and chief executive officer of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), which manages the TAP System. "Their success is exciting and demonstrates the extraordinary results that can be achieved when you place a high priority on developing highly effective teachers and principals."

Osborn Elementary School District has been participating in the Arizona Ready-for-Rigor Project since it began in 2010, and has been partnering with Arizona State University since 1998 when it hosted the first cohort of teacher candidates in a program that eventually became iTeachAZ. Osborn school district has increased the academic success of its five schools over the years, and in 2013-2014, became the only school district in the Phoenix area to have all of its schools earn an “A” or “B” rating by the Arizona Department of Education’s A-F Letter Grades.

“I was deeply honored to accept the 2015 District Award of Distinction at the National TAP Conference on behalf of the Osborn community,” said Osborn superintendent Patricia Tate. “NIET’s recognition of Osborn staff’s many years of hard work focused on teacher effectiveness and student achievement was unexpected, deeply appreciated and could never have been accomplished without the strong support of our governing board, parents, partners and community. We are profoundly grateful to ASU for inviting us to join the AZRfR Project and for their ongoing support of our successful implementation of the TAP System.”

Avondale Elementary School District, also an iTeachAZ district, joined the project for the 2011-1012 academic year and has adopted and rigorously implemented the program’s elements to improve educator quality: mentor teacher leadership positions and partnerships, regular professional development based on data-driven results, and routine observation and evaluation systems for teacher and administrator improvement. Through these actions, Avondale district has impacted its value-added growth (a measurement of student academic improvement) and been highlighted as a model by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching to other TAP schools nationwide.

“It is a privilege to accept this award on behalf of our entire district,” said Avondale superintendent Betsy Hargrove. “TAP has allowed us to focus on teaching and learning in a new way. Our teachers work in teams to engage in research-based professional development, create goals for their own learning and are highly effective in the classroom. We are incredibly proud of our staff in Avondale and know that without their ongoing efforts, we would not be successful. Our longstanding relationship with ASU jump-started and supported our implementation of the TAP System, and we look forward to future collaborative efforts and even more success in the future.”

The two Arizona districts were among six honored with the TAP District of Distinction award; the other winners were from Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas. The honor also includes a $10,000 prize to be used toward the implementation of the TAP System. More details about the TAP District of Distinction Awards are available at NIET, which is involved with over 200,000 educators and 2.5 million students in its many educational initiatives.