Dec 11, 2012
White Also Meets with Area Teachers to Discuss Changes Coming to Compass

BATON ROUGE, La. - Today, State Superintendent of Education John White presented Rapides Parish School Superintendent Gerald B. Woodard with a check for $300,000 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.

"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."

Tioga Junior High School is partnering with Alexandria Middle Magnet School, Arthur F. Smith Middle School, Pineville Junior High School, Northwood High School and Caroline Dorman Junior High School to increase literacy among middle school students who score below proficient on state exams.  These partner schools will participate in the Read and Achieve Program focusing on literacy for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who scored below proficient on state assessments.

"We're thrilled that our project was awarded funding through the Believe and Include grant initiative," said Rapides Parish School Superintendent Gerald B. Woodard.  "It will allow our partner schools to provide the necessary instruction to improve literacy skills among our students who need it the most."

In addition, White celebrated student achievement with the administrators, faculty and students of Tioga Junior High School.  For the 2011-2012 school year, Tioga Junior High School earned the Top Gains School designation - one of 12 schools in Rapides Parish labeled Top Gains.  Supt. White presented the school with a check in the amount of $8,453 as a reward for increasing student achievement.

Immediately following the award ceremony, Supt. White held a forum for area teachers to discuss changes that are coming to the Compass teacher evaluation system.  Specifically, the Department announced it will incorporate feedback from educators on several of the system's components in order to strengthen Compass overall.

The Department will share Compass challenges and proposed solutions with educators and gather additional feedback this month.  Specific challenges that will be addressed include leveraging the strengths of the value-added component of the system.  The Department will present challenges and proposed solutions to superintendents and members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in January.  For a link to the presentation Supt. White gave to teachers today, please click here.

About Believe and Include
Sixteen districts or charter organizations, representing 85 schools, will benefit from grants 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 district leaders, school leaders, and special education teachers to pursue innovation in special education in our state.  For a complete listing of Believe and Include recipients, please click here.

About Top Gains Schools
This year 440 schools in the state earned the Top Gains School designation. Top Gains Schools improved their School Performance Score by or beyond a pre-determined growth target, from 2 to 10 points, and will receive $8,453 each for educational purposes within the school. For a complete listing of 2011-2012 Top Gains Schools, please click here.

About Compass
Compass is the state's teacher evaluation system which was created by Act 54 of the 2010 Regular Legislative Session and was implemented this school year. Approximately 6,000 evaluators have been trained on the Compass system, 75,000 student learning targets have been written, and more than 8,000 observations have been recorded.

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