Dec 07, 2012

District Receives Check for Believe and Include Grant Initiative; Acadiana High School Honored as a Top Gains School

BATON ROUGE, La. - Today, State Superintendent of Education John White presented Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper with a check for $150,000 as part of the Department's Believe and Include grant initiative.  The Department is funding the $4 million dollar grant program through the repurposing of existing federal funding for projects through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and returning the money to schools to spur innovation that will directly impact student achievement for students with special needs.  By consolidating staffing and resources within the state agency, ending contracts to manage websites, eliminating unnecessary professional development workshops and eliminating other low-impact projects, the Department identified funding for the project.

"If we are going to believe all children can learn, then we must also believe that students with special needs can achieve at higher levels," State Superintendent of Education John White said.  "This initiative is about finding innovative ways to not only include our students with disabilities but to create better learning environments for them to achieve higher outcomes."

Sixteen districts or charter organizations, representing 85 schools, will benefit from grant as part of the Department's Believe and Include initiative to develop innovative programs that help students with disabilities achieve proficiency of the more rigorous Common Core State Standards.  Believe and Include represents an effort to drive achievement by empowering our district leaders, school leaders, and special education teachers to pursue innovation in special education in our state.

Three Lafayette Parish schools - Acadiana High School, Scott Middle School, and Westside Elementary School - will use the grant money to partner together to implement the I Write! project.  This project is aimed at improving writing skills for students with disabilities to better assist them in achieving higher outcomes on state assessments.

"We're very excited to see our 'I Write!' Project receive funding through the Believe and Include grant initiative," said Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper.  "It will allow our three partner schools to provide the necessary instruction to improve student writing skills."

In addition, Supt. White celebrated student achievement with the administrators, faculty and students of Acadiana High School.  For the 2011-2012 school year, Acadiana High School earned the Top Gains School designation - one of eight schools in Lafayette Parish labeled Top Gains.  Supterintendent White presented the school with a check in the amount of $8,500 as a reward for increasing student achievement and the school's Performance Score by or beyond a pre-determined growth goal.  The money is to be spent on educational purposes within the school.  In total, 440 schools in the state earned the Top Gains School designation.

"This is really motivating, especially for our students and faculty.  It supports our putting a stake in the ground to ensure that every child succeeds," said Catherine Cassidy, Acadiana High School Assistant Principal.

"As a district, we are very proud to have eight schools recognized as Top Gains schools - it's a testament to the hard work put in every day by our administrators, teachers and students. Our district is clearly on the path to a brighter future for all our students," said Dr. Cooper.

For a complete listing of Believe and Include recipients, please click here.

For a complete listing of 2011-2012 Top Gains Schools, please click here.


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