Aug 24, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. - Louisiana ranks second in the nation for its efforts to improve teacher effectiveness, according to a national report released this week by Bellwether Education Partners. The study, which compared legislative and policy changes of 21 states over the past three years, specifically focused on evaluations, effectiveness, tenure and compensation. Louisiana was recognized for adopting sweeping changes in these areas, beginning with legislation passed in 2010 regarding educator evaluations and further strengthened by Act 1 of the recent legislative session. Act 1 is a key component of Louisiana Believes, the state’s comprehensive plan to empower educators and parents to make the best choices for children.

"As more states embrace legislation and policies that focus on teacher-effectiveness reform, it is increasingly important to share information on state actions in order to make room for improvements across the board," said State Superintendent of Education John White. "Through meaningful reform, we can help keep our best teachers in the classroom, attract high-quality professionals to the field and ensure our students receive the best education."

Starting this school year, the state will begin evaluating teachers and school leaders using a new model called Compass. Evaluators will work alongside teachers throughout the year, providing ongoing feedback to support their improvement. The Compass model is designed to provide educators with qualitative and quantitative feedback, including measures of student growth that can be used to guide targeted professional development. If improvement cannot be achieved, the law provides for loss of certification or possible termination. Act 1 goes further in requiring that teachers rated Highly Effective for five out of six years qualify for tenure, while those rated Ineffective will no longer quality for tenure until they achieve a Highly Effective rating for five out of six years. The law also links performance outcomes to hiring, retention, and compensation decisions.  It additionally requires school boards to delegate many personnel matters to superintendents and mandates that contracts for superintendents leading low-performing districts contain specific performance targets. In implementing layoffs, superintendents will be required to base such decisions for teachers and administrators solely on demand, performance, and effectiveness.

"We are providing teachers, principals, and superintendents with meaningful information to support and inform their improvement through the creation of a comprehensive performance management system that links outcomes to critical personnel decisions," White said. "In doing so, our aim is to empower decision-makers with information and the power to act on it by removing burdensome regulations that have tied their hands for decades - again with the aim of retaining our best teachers." 

To read the full report titled "Recent State Action on Teacher Effectiveness: What’s in State Laws and Regulations?", please click here.

About Bellwether Education Partners 
Bellwether Education Partners is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the achievement of low-income students by cultivating, advising, and placing a robust community of innovative, effective, and sustainable change agents in public education reform and improving the policy climate for their work.

About Act 1 
Act 1 requires Louisiana school districts and schools to use measures of teacher effectiveness to guide personnel policies and decisions. The law calls for teachers to be compensated based on experience, license area, and effectiveness, without decreasing any teacher’s salary or affecting retirement. Act 1 further preserves tenure for current teachers who earn effective ratings. The statute relies on the state’s educator performance evaluation model, Compass, which will be fully implemented for teachers and principals in the 2012-2013 school year.

About Compass
Compass was created by Act 54 of the 2010 Regular Legislative Session and will be implemented this school year.  For the first time, teachers will be evaluated, in part, on student learning.  Half of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on how much a student learned from one year to the next, and half of the evaluation will be based on observations by principals and administrators. These new evaluations will determine compensation, which was required by Act 1 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session.

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