A Message from the Founder
We know from research that aside from home and family, the single most important factor driving student performance is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. The most effective teachers produce as much as five times the learning gains of the least effective teachers. And four consecutive years of high-quality teachers can close the achievement gap. With these facts in mind, you would think that the K-12 system would be structured in a way to attract large numbers of talented people to teaching, and then create an environment in which they could thrive. Instead tragically, half of new teachers leave within the first five years, and those who do leave tend to have scored highest on both subject matter and pedagogy exams. The nation's extraordinary educational challenges, compounded by a fierce battle for human capital in an ultra-competitive global society, heighten the urgency to attract and retain teaching talent more than ever before.
In this revolutionary age of opportunity on a global scale, America's talented young people have many choices to make a positive impact in society, both nationally and internationally. How, then, do we motivate the best and brightest to choose education as a career? This is the driving force behind our work at the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching and our trailblazing TAP™ system. A comprehensive research-based reform, TAP improves student learning by providing teachers with powerful opportunities for career advancement, professional growth, fair accountability and competitive compensation. The resulting advances in teacher quality — and student achievement — have generated an exponential demand for TAP and similar reforms.
The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching is in the position to strengthen public/private partnerships and maximize the impact of TAP and other effective teacher quality programs. Those of us who have worked tirelessly to improve K-12 education know that countless efforts have been made to reform the system. However, few have had the focus, scope and strength necessary to achieve measurable results and sustainability. TAP is proof that reform centered on educators can work.
On the ground and growing strong, TAP is now making a positive difference in the lives of more than 200,000 students and 20,000 teachers every day. Teachers, administrators and students themselves are utilizing TAP to create the best possible environments to learn and grow. Schools that have faced the greatest educational challenges are now seeing dramatic gains. But we know that these crucial improvements cannot be accomplished alone and cannot happen overnight. Our support from educators, districts, communities and governments at the local, state and federal levels has helped us begin building a broader coalition with organizations, foundations and corporations. These partnerships are essential to implement the right reforms to benefit all students.
We encourage you to join us in this important and urgent cause. With such systems in place, there is real promise for the education profession to attract greater numbers of talented individuals to perform the most important job in our nation and indeed the world: equipping youth for the exciting challenges of the future. The next generation deserves this opportunity.
Lowell MilkenFounder, TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement
Chairman and Founder, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching