Dec 18, 2013

Long-Term Initiative to Increase Training on the Job, in the Classroom 

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Department of Education today launched Believe and Prepare, a plan to empower schools and districts to become leading voices in the work of preparing Louisiana’s future educators.  The goal of the program is to increase time in the classroom for teacher candidates, learning from seasoned educators while still preparing for full-time work. To participate, schools or school districts will partner with teacher preparation programs to develop teacher preparation programs in which students learn the profession on the job, in the classroom.

"Teachers learn best from master teachers,” said Superintendent John White. “Through innovative programs developed by educators, we can better prepare our newest teachers for the challenges of the classroom while honoring the prestige of our profession.”

“As an educator, I know how important it is for aspiring teachers to spend time in the classroom, understanding and practicing essential skills to support all students’ success. This grant will allow schools and districts to recruit and train top educators to mentor and teach aspiring educators, sharing the responsibility of preparing Louisiana’s next generation of educators to effectively serve all students,” said Holly Boffy, member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

At present, teacher candidates in Louisiana are required to have only one hour per day for one school year of classroom experience. Studies have demonstrated, however, the effectiveness of “clinical” programs, more like medical residencies, in which candidates spend significant amounts of time in the classroom, learning while being mentored.  Similarly, they must be able to demonstrate a positive impact on student achievement before entering the classroom as professional educators.

Believe and Prepare will offer schools, districts, and existing preparation programs – or institutions new to preparation – the opportunity to create bold, innovative approaches to readying our educators for success in any school setting.  The initiative will fund innovative approaches to educator preparation, including: educator preparation programs designed and led by schools or districts; redesigned coursework that takes place through apprenticeships; and partnerships between schools, districts, and preparation programs that lead to co-designed and co-led courses of study for prospective teachers and leaders.

Schools or districts can apply individually or through a joint application with a preparation program. The state will receive applications until February 14, 2014 and award five Believe and Prepare Grants of up to $150,000 to applicants. Believe and Prepare awards will be funded through a grant from the Council of Chief State School Officers, Race to the Top funds, and other state funds.

“The ‘Believe and Prepare’ initiative seeks to find, fund, and support innovative teacher preparation models. A major goal is to find ways to better embed teacher preparation into the school context. This on-the-job training will allow current and prospective teachers to practice classroom theory while they’re studying it. Tweaking the current teacher preparation delivery system to focus more on time with students will result in better-prepared teachers and better instruction for students,” said Stephen Waguespack, LABI president.

“We anticipate that funds will be used by both districts and preparation programs to deepen relationships and create conditions where schools and preparation programs share the responsibility of preparing effective new teachers and leaders for Louisiana’s schools.  Children are the winners when teacher and leader candidates are mentored by effective experienced educators in positive clinical settings and all have a common goal of improving student learning,” said Dr. Jim Purcell, Commissioner, Louisiana Board of Regents.

Believe and Prepare is a new opportunity among many that the Department has created to better use existing funding to support and inspire innovation from districts, schools, educators, and non profits. Currently, these groups have the option to start a school or program, receive professional development, or train to be a school leader through grants like Believe and Succeed, which is currently accepting applications for its third round of grantees. The Department also is launching an online Call to Action Toolbox that will provide useful resources to help individuals, organizations, and districts efficiently analyze and determine: 1) which new opportunity to support Louisiana students to pursue; 2) where to pursue that opportunity; and 3) how to successfully pursue that opportunity. Click here to learn more about Believe and Succeed and to view the Call to Action Toolbox

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