Beaufort Elementary earns national recognition

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Beaufort Elementary School was one of four American schools surprised last Saturday with national awards for its efforts on behalf of an initiative aimed at improving teacher effectiveness and student achievement.

The TAP Ambassador Award, which carries a $5,000 prize, was accepted by Principal Gary McCulloch before an audience of more than 1,200 educators and policy leaders at the 14th National TAP Conference in Los Angeles.  The award honors a TAP school that has gone beyond its campus to represent the principles of the TAP system and to assist others in the state, region and nation.

TAP (The System for Teacher and Student Advancement) is a comprehensive initiative that offers teachers career advancement, professional development, educator evaluation and performance-based compensation.  Managed and supported by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, TAP works to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement in high-need urban, rural and suburban schools and districts across the country.

“I thank Gary McCulloch and the entire Beaufort Elementary School faculty for allowing TAP schools to see them in action,” said Dr. Gary Stark, president and chief executive officer of NIET. “Their collaborative spirit and diligence to achieve exemplary growth every year serve as a model for schools in South Carolina and across the country.”

NIET said that since adopting TAP in the 2010-11 school year, Beaufort Elementary — a Title I Pre-K through fifth grade school serving more than 600 students — has focused on improving learning for all students by tailoring weekly professional development to specific needs; creating leadership roles to mentor others through TAP mentor and master teacher positions; implementing TAP’s teacher support and evaluation with rigor; and instituting a competitive compensation system to reward educators for increased skill and student performance.

As a result, Beaufort Elementary has received the highest possible value-added score of 5 every year it has been in TAP.  That score represents significant student achievement growth compared to similar schools in the state.  Test scores show high percentages of student proficiency in English/Language Arts (83 percent), Math (74 percent), Science (72 percent), Social Studies (81 percent), and Writing (75 percent).  In 2013, the state rated the school’s growth as “Excellent.”

NIET said that Beaufort Elementary staff members share their progress with others who can benefit, welcoming representatives from other schools to tour the Beaufort campus and watch their strategies at work.  Staff members are also featured at TAP national conferences, and their classroom lessons are accessible online for teachers and leaders nationwide.

“It’s wonderful to see the teachers and leadership at Beaufort Elementary recognized nationally for the work they’re doing,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.  “The team spirit and collaboration they demonstrate is aimed at enhancing the learning of Beaufort Elementary’s students, and that is certainly happening.”

Beaufort Elementary is the second district school to be honored with a TAP Ambassador Award in the last two years  Battery Creek High was one of six TAP Ambassador Award recipients in 2013.  In addition, Whale Branch Middle School earned the 2012 TAP Founder’s Award, which included a $50,000 cash prize.