The study took place in 28 elementary, middle, and high schools in Louisiana.
Seventeen Louisiana schools began implementing TAP™ in 2008–09 or 2009–10. Three of these schools were omitted from the sample because they lacked baseline data on their students. Thus, the final sample consisted of 14 TAP™ schools and 14 comparison schools that did not implement TAP™. Grade levels served by the schools varied from elementary grades (for example, grades pre-kindergarten–5), middle schools grades (for example, grades 4–6 and grades 6–8), and high school grades (for example, grades 8–12).
The 14 comparison group schools were identified through a propensity score matching procedure. The authors first narrowed the pool of potential matching schools by selecting other Louisiana schools that were not participating in TAP™, had students in the same grade levels (elementary, middle, or high school), had the same performance classification, and had data available during the same baseline year as TAP™ schools. Propensity scores were then calculated for the TAP™ schools and schools in the restricted non-TAP™ pool using baseline school performance scores, student enrollment counts, and the percentage of students who were economically disadvantaged. The nearest neighbor to each TAP™ school was selected as the matching comparison school, with replacement.
Students attended schools that began implementing TAP™ in 2008–09 or 2009–10. Teachers in these schools could earn bonuses, extra pay, and responsibilities based on a combination of their value added to student achievement and observations of their classroom teaching. The length of time that schools implemented TAP™ varied from 2–4 years. As of the end of 2011–12, six schools had implemented TAP™ for 4 years, seven schools had implemented TAP™ for 3 years, and one school had implemented TAP™ for 2 years. The finding after 1 year of TAP™ implementation is included in this report.
The 14 matched comparison schools were in a “business-as-usual” condition and did not receive TAP™.
Support for implementation
The TAP™ model includes observations of teachers by the principal, mentor teachers, and master teachers, all of whom undergo training and certification in using the SKR rubric. SKR scores are based on observed classroom performance in four domains: designing and planning instruction, learning environment, instruction, and responsibilities. Despite the fact that TAP™ includes teacher observations, the study included no information on the degree to which schools adequately implemented the program’s four core elements (that is, multiple career paths, ongoing applied professional growth, instructionally-focused accountability, and performance-based compensation).