Grover Heights teachers opt out of TAP



TAP, the Teacher and Student Advancement System, is no more at Grover Heights Elementary School.

The school’s staff voted on March 21 to opt out of the incentive-based teaching program, which district officials have lauded as a way to enhance student performance.

Grover Heights principal Susan Kesselring expressed her disappointment over losing TAP in a statement to the media.

 “We learned a lot about how to strengthen our instructional methods thanks to TAP. That learning will not be lost,” Kesselring said in the statement. “Grover Heights will move forward and continue to adapt. Our student achievement, both academic and social, remains our main focus.”

Funded primarily by grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund, TAP is an educational reform program that aims to improve teacher and student performance through professional development, merit-based pay, and other resources.

The Grover Heights program, however, was paid for by the Stuart Foundation, an independent foundation in the Bay Area. TAP is designed to help schools not meeting the federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act get out of Program Improvement status. It was implemented at seven Lucia Mar sites—Judkins and Mesa middle schools and Nipomo, Dorothea Lange, Fairgrove, and Oceano elementary schools—in fall of 2011.

One year later, disagreements over the program’s effectiveness and duration led to the creation of a contract between the district and Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association (LMUTA) that allows teachers to opt out of the program with a simple majority vote.

Teachers at Grover Heights came to that conclusion on March 21. Staffers at five other schools voted to continue with TAP in the 2013-14 school year; two other sites chose not to cast votes.

When asked to comment on the vote, LMUTA president Donna Kandel said she was glad the association achieved its goal of giving teachers the ability to decide whether to keep TAP.

District officials didn’t return additional requests for comment as of press time.

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