Jan 17, 2013

White Also Meets with Area Teachers to Discuss Enhancements Made to Compass

BATON ROUGE, La. – Today, State Superintendent of Education John White visited East Ascension High School in Ascension Parish to present Superintendent Patrice Pujol 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.

“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.”

Three Ascension Parish schools – Pecan Grove Primary School, Carver Primary School, and Gonzales Primary School – partnered together for the Power Up initiative aimed at increasing the academic performance of students with disabilities in English Language Arts and math.  The program will provide a solid structure supporting students with disabilities to increase proficiency.  It will also prepare them to achieve measureable progress toward mastering the Common Core State Standards.  Through the Power Up program, iPads will be purchased for each student with an identified problem.  The iPads will be loaded with educational applications reinforcing skills taught in a regular education classroom addressing the Common Core engaging student visual, through audio, and kinesthetic.

Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol said, “We are thrilled to receive the Believe and Include Award grant to enable our three primary schools to work collaboratively to find innovative and effective practices to move our most challenged students to high levels of learning.”

Supt. White also took the opportunity to celebrate student achievement with the administrators, faculty and students of East Ascension High School.  For the 2011-2012 school year, East Ascension High School earned the Top Gains School designation – one of 16 schools in Ascension 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.  The amount of Top Gains rewards presented to schools in Ascension Parish totaled more than $135,000.  The money can be used for educational purposes within each school.

“These scores directly represent the diligent efforts of our students, parents, teachers and administrators to raise the bar so that all students will be successful,” said Superintendent Pujol.  “Our district is focused on implementing higher standards for teaching and learning.  We have invested in professional learning that has helped our teachers become better classroom instructors, and we have incorporated collaborative practices and have better learned how to utilize academic assessments to help yield more positive results for all our students.”

In addition to the check presentations, Superintendent White hosted a Town Hall Meeting with Ascension Parish teachers to discuss adjustments to the Compass educator evaluation adopted this week by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.  The adjustments to the Compass system will increase professional development and support of educators statewide.  These enhancements will provide teachers with more feedback on their performance and will increase clarity around end-of-year evaluation results. The improvements are the result of input from principals and teachers across the state, gathered through nine months of intensive training, dozens of town halls, and meetings of advisory panels.  To review the adjustments, please click 
here for a PowerPoint presentation or here for a YouTube video.

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.

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.

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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