Jun 18, 2012

Statewide School Board Meeting Tour to Follow Announcement

BATON ROUGE, LA. - Today, State Superintendent of Education John White joined with teachers, principals, and superintendents to present the final version of Louisiana Believes, the state’s comprehensive plan for continued improvement in education. The finalized plan, which builds upon recent legislation and Louisiana’s approved Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver, is the outcome of meetings with hundreds of educators and community members across the state, who gave feedback during 22 in-person meetings and four virtual meetings White conducted after issuing a draft plan in April. The Superintendent named Louisiana Believes Advisory Committees, comprised of teachers, principals, and superintendents from across the state who have committed to work with state leaders on implementation of Louisiana Believes. Committee members will be recognized this evening at a welcome ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion.

"Too often we think change for our children will come from legislatures and bureaucrats," said Superintendent White.  "Louisiana Believes is a plan to empower educators and parents to make change for their children, so it’s critical that they lead us in developing and implementing the plan."

In addition to the committees, White also announced a 12-parish school board meeting tour to take place in July and August.

Since taking over as State Superintendent of Education in January, White has visited schools in more than half of the state’s 64 parishes.  As a result of the hundreds of conversations with educators, school leaders, and business and community group leaders, he formulated and released a preliminary Louisiana Believes plan on April 19. 

The Louisiana Believes plan is based on the belief that all students can achieve academic success, and that those closest to students - parents and educators, not bureaucrats - should be empowered to make decisions to support the success of their students. The Louisiana Department of Education presented the main policy components of the plan to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) today.

Revised Louisiana Believes Plan

The Louisiana Believes plan is comprised of basic principles and core elements that are essential to driving continuous academic improvement.  These include the enactment of Acts 1, 2 and 3 of the recent legislative session; the approved ESEA waiver, the transition to the Common Core State Standards; and the implementation of Compass - the state’s new evaluation system for educators.  The goal of the Louisiana Believes plan is to achieve one central objective:  ensuring all students, at every grade level, are on track to attain a college degree or succeed in a professional career.

The plan released today includes many new components and builds upon the idea that belief in children, families and educators, coupled with support, can lead to student success. Among the initiatives detailed in the plan released today are:

Belief in Children:

  • Louisiana will create a unified system of academic pre-kindergartens statewide with standardized benchmarks and assessments
  •  Expectations for children will reflect internationally competitive goals through implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Compass
  • Louisiana’s school and district accountability system will raise the bar without dropping schools’ scores; schools will be rewarded for rigorous coursework

Belief in Educators:

  • Rather than prescribing state-run professional development programs for districts and schools to follow, "network teams" will provide support around the needs and strengths of the districts and their schools; network teams will be assessed in part based on surveys of district leadership opinion
  • Teams of teachers and schools leaders will choose academic material and have autonomy to seek rigorous coursework for students while red tape at the state level is diminished
  • ESEA waiver allows for flexibility in funding decisions, allowing superintendents more flexibility in how they spend $375 million in Title I, 21st Century and REAP funds

Belief in Families:

  • Creation of "Achievement Zones" in districts with large numbers of failing schools
  • Qualifying families have option to enroll students in public and nonpublic schools participating in the Louisiana Student Scholarship Program
  • Course Choice will expand options for students, providing career training as part of the state’s core K-12 education program

Advisory Committees

Members of the advisory committees named today will meet quarterly this year and offer ongoing input on the implementation of the Louisiana Believes plan. More than 100 educators have been appointed to serve on the Louisiana Believes Teacher and Principal Advisory Committees. Thirteen district superintendents and charter school leaders will serve on the Louisiana Believes Superintendents Advisory Committee. Teachers and principals submitted letters of interest to the Department and were selected based on their diverse professional backgrounds and geographic representation, as well as recommendations from other educators and community groups.

In addition to the teachers, principals and superintendents committees, a panel of parents and community members will be selected to serve on a Louisiana Believes Parents/Community Advisory Committee. The Department is inviting members of the community to submit letters of interest over the next two weeks.

"We know that an engaged support system is critical to the success of our students, and their input will also be important in successful implementation of this plan." said White. "I look forward to continuing to work with the committed educators on these advisory committees to effectively enact our plan."

To watch the live announcement of the Louisiana Believes plan at 6 p.m., a link is provided at

To view the final Louisiana Believes plan, please click here.

To view a list of the Louisiana Believes Advisory Committee Members, please click here.

Parents and community members who would like to serve on the Louisiana Believes Parents/Community Advisory Committee should submit letters of interest to by July 2.


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