BELIEVE AND PREPARE

In line with leading nations’ approaches to teacher preparation, the Department launched the nationally recognized Believe and Prepare pilot program in 2014. This pilot program offered aspiring teachers a full year of practice under an expert mentor and a competency-based program design.

In October 2016, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), with support from the Louisiana Board of Regents (BoR), adopted landmark regulations to expand yearlong residencies and competency-based curricula statewide. Since 2014, BESE has awarded over $9 million in grant awards to teacher preparation providers and their school system partners to advance this shift to full-year residencies for all aspiring teachers.

BESE also approved a three-year transitional funding package to support the shift to these new teacher preparation guidelines, including a yearlong residency. Funding includes a $2,000 stipend for undergraduate residents participating in a yearlong residency and a $1,000 stipend for mentors of undergraduate residents.

By July 2018, all teacher preparation programs in Louisiana will include a yearlong residency alongside an expert mentor, and all preparation programs will include a competency-based curriculum that will provide teacher candidates with the knowledge and skills needed in order to be prepared for their first years of teaching.


BELIEVE AND PREPARE: TOOLS AND RESOURCES

In 2014, the Department released the Partners in Preparation: A Survey of Educators & Education Preparation Programs report highlighting a clear opportunity to strengthen preparation experiences statewide.

In 2015, the Department released an annual report highlighting best practices gleaned from the first two cohorts of the Believe and Prepare educator preparation grant program.

Since the release of the report, the Department has created several resources to help guide the transition to new statewide policies.



BELIEVE AND PREPARE HISTORY

The day-to-day work of a classroom teacher is complex and challenging, as is the work to recruit and prepare Louisiana’s next generation of teachers. Beginning in 2014, as part of a long-term body of work to improve teacher preparation in Louisiana, the Department engaged K-12 educators, as well as school, school systems, and teacher preparation leaders across the state to gather their feedback on teacher preparation experiences and how they can be strengthened.

In July 2014, the Department surveyed teachers statewide about their personal experiences with preparation and in the classroom. Principals and personnel directors shared their experiences hiring and supporting new teachers, and preparation program faculty shared their experiences collaborating with partner schools and school systems.

Those results were released in the Department’s Partners in Preparation: A Survey of Educators & Education Preparation Programs report. This report highlighted some of the ongoing challenges facing teacher preparation programs, and shared ideas from educators as to how school systems and preparation programs can collaborate to improve this experience for future teacher candidates.

In direct response to this feedback, the Department launched Believe and Prepare, which provided $4.89 million in grant funds to three cohorts of school systems to support closer partnerships between preparation providers and school system leaders to offer aspiring teachers a full year of practice under an expert mentor and a competency-based curriculum.

In 2014, Believe and Prepare launched with seven school systems and seven preparation providers in Cohort 1. In 2015, the program grew to over 20 school systems and over 15 preparation providers in Cohort 2, and in 2016, Cohort 3 consisted of over 30 school systems and over 20 preparation providers.

In three years, over 850 undergraduate teacher candidates were supported by expert mentors while pursuing certification through a yearlong residency program.



BELIEVE AND PREPARE: MENTOR TEACHER CADRE

Recognizing the importance of building a cadre of trained mentors -- expert classroom teachers -- to support new and developing educators, the Department launched a statewide training opportunity in fall 2017. In 2017-2018, nearly 500 mentor teachers will receive professional development to support yearlong classroom residents and other teachers-in-training. An additional 1,000 mentors will be trained in 2018-2019, and also in 2019-2020. By the end of three years, Louisiana will have established a cadre of 2,500 trained mentor teachers.

To learn more, visit Louisiana Mentor Teachers.


BELIEVE AND PREPARE: SUPPORT FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES

While yearlong residencies under the tutelage of an expert mentor are more readily accessible to aspiring teachers in urban and suburban school systems, schools in only nine percent of Louisiana’s most sparsely populated parishes are currently able to offer the same opportunities. In response to conversations with school system leaders, and as an extension of Believe and Prepare, the Department launched an effort in 2017, to further explore teacher workforce strengths and challenges in rural school systems, and to identify potential supports for these communities.

To that end, the Department surveyed more than 1,300 educators statewide in summer 2017. After analyzing the survey results and educator workforce data, the Department released Access to Full Preparation For Teachers in Rural Communities. This report highlights the unique challenges of preparing teachers to teach in rural communities and underscores the need for greater access to high-quality educator preparation pathways in rural communities, especially for aspiring teachers who enter the teaching profession through the post-baccalaureate or “alternate” certification route.

In October 2017, 24 school systems responded to the Department’s request for applications, seeking eligible school systems committed to piloting innovative approaches to increase access to high-quality, residency based preparation programs in rural communities.

In December 2017, the Department selected 8 applicants to receive $675,000 in grant funding and invited the other applicants to participate as Community of Learning school systems that participate in meetings during the design phase and also receive small stipends.

In August 2018, these pilots began supporting 38 alternate certification candidates who teach in 16 schools across rural Louisiana. At minimum, these pilots include structured practice and mentoring for, on average, one period per day, every day, during the entire school year. This time may include co-teaching, observation and feedback sessions, or collaborative planning time. These changes are the result of cost-neutral adjusted class schedules and teaching assignments.

While each school system continues to track the progress of the post-baccalaureate preparation models, including their candidates’ impact on student achievement, their efforts offer insight into how Louisiana can strengthen alternate certification candidates’ experiences.

The Department will continue to examine the impact of each pilot and, more specifically, the impact of increasing mentoring as a critical part of the post-baccalaureate preparation experience. 

Moving forward, the Department will continue to examine the impact of each pilot and work with schools, school systems, and preparation leaders as we continue to identifying supports for rural school systems and opportunities to strengthen the preparation experience of all aspiring educators across the state.



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