To the Editor:
I read with interest “Districts Abandon Grants Targeting Teacher Quality” (Aug. 22, 2012), describing three urban districts returning their 2010 Teacher Incentive Fund grants due to a lack of union support.
Ascension Parish receives funding under a 2010 TIF grant to the state of Louisiana, and we are using these funds to implement the Teacher Advancement Program system. TAP has enabled us to take a comprehensive approach to building and sustaining teaching talent, which TIF regulations have always allowed.
Our approach has two equally important goals: attracting more effective educators to high-need schools, and building the talents of educators already in these schools. TAP enables us to create leadership teams that offer teachers new roles as evaluators and providers of school-based professional development.
We find that our most accomplished teachers want to teach in our high-need TAP schools, thanks to more accurate and meaningful evaluations; school-based professional support to act on these evaluations; the ability to take on new leadership roles; and opportunities to earn additional pay for improvements in their performance, their students’ performance, and their schools’ growth. The strong student-achievement growth in these schools reflects a higher level of teaching talent.
We are now moving to bring elements of this successful reform into schools districtwide, including the evaluation system. Many of the 2010 grant recipients are taking a similarly comprehensive approach to improving teaching and learning. Leveraging these funds to create sustainable reform is indeed making a significant difference in the quality of instruction for the students in Ascension and in other districts throughout the nation.
Ascension Parish Schools
A version of this article appeared in the September 19, 2012 edition of Education Week as Grant Aids Teacher Advancement