Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

Washington, D.C.—Donaldsonville High School in Ascension Parish Schools, Louisiana, was surprised with the TAP Ambassador Award—which comes with a financial prize of $5,000.  The award honors a TAP school that has gone beyond its campus to represent the principles of the TAP system and assist others in the state, region and nation.  The award was presented before over 1,200 educators and policy leaders attending a special Saturday luncheon at the 13th National TAP Conference in Washington, D.C.  Donaldsonville High Principal Dr. Esrom Pitre accepted the award on the school’s behalf.     

TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement is America’s leading comprehensive education reform offering teachers career advancement, professional development, educator evaluation and performance-based compensation.  For more than ten years, TAP has worked to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement in high-need urban, rural and suburban schools and districts across the country.  It is managed and supported by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

“Since its first year of TAP implementation, Donaldsonville High School has demonstrated the willingness, eagerness, and skill to host schools in the state and throughout the nation,” said Dr. Gary Stark, president and chief executive officer of NIET.  “The faculty’s openness to share its successes and challenges provides unprecedented and authentic learning experiences for TAP educators far and wide.  Donaldsonville High is truly worthy of this honor.”

Donaldsonville High started TAP implementation in the 2008-09 school year to increase teaching effectiveness and improve student achievement. The TAP system has helped put the campus on the right track by tailoring weekly professional development “cluster” meetings 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.  Each year, Principal Pitre and his TAP Leadership Team refine their practices, creating a strong center in which all members actively contribute to the new learning, decision making and development honed in cluster and leadership meetings.  In turn, student achievement is improving.  Value-added student growth scores have steadily increased from a 3 (a solid year’s growth) in 2009-10, to a 4 (more than a year’s growth) in 2010-2011, and to a 5 (significantly more than a year’s growth) in 2011-2012—the highest score possible.  These efforts are reflected in a jump in state ratings from a D to a B for the 2011-2012 school year. 

TAP schools across Louisiana have visited Donaldsonville High to see its high-school implementation of TAP in action.  In addition to welcoming schools to the campus, Donaldsonville High has hosted “virtual” site visits in which schools participate via video conference to watch cluster and leadership team meetings—and have the opportunity to speak directly with the teachers.  Videos of classroom lessons have been made available on the TAP System Training Portal and for other purposes to support learning in TAP schools across the country.  Faculty has helped coordinate state trainings, and the campus has become an incubator for even further advancement; two former master teachers, Monique Wild and Rene Diamond, are now state executive master teachers.  They utilize their experiences from the school daily in their current roles to provide support to others.

Donaldsonville High School joins five other TAP Ambassador Award recipients this year: Battery Creek High School in Beaufort County School District, South Carolina; Constitution Elementary School in Deer Valley School District, Arizona; Lincoln High School in the Lincoln Consolidated School District, Arkansas; Queen Palmer Elementary School in Colorado Springs School District 11, Colorado; and Southport Elementary School in the Metropolitan School District of Perry Township, Indiana.

Separately, Ascension Parish Schools received a 2013 TAP Award of Distinction for its commitment and dedication to the TAP system.  A video of TAP’s impact on Ascension Parish can be found at and the press release is located here

Media photos of the TAP Recognition Awards will be available for download at  

Initiatives of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching are improving the educational experience for more than 100,000 teachers and one million students.  For more information on TAP or the 13th National TAP Conference in Washington, D.C., visit