Dec 03, 2014

Stakeholder Feedback Emphasizes Need for Districts, Preparation Programs to Form Partnerships

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education today hosted an Educator Preparation Policy Forum to discuss and gather input on challenges and opportunities in recruiting and preparing the state’s next generation of educators. This policy forum continues the Department’s long-term work to strengthen teacher preparation in Louisiana such as educator surveys, focus groups, and the work of the Believe and Prepare pilot programs. Launched in April 2014,
Believe and Prepare has demonstrated the challenges of teacher preparation can be met through increased, authentic school leader involvement in educator preparation, creating partnerships with preparation programs that focus on meeting school and districts’ workforce needs.

“Ensuring that our schools have the best prepared teachers will ensure that our children are in a posture to compete globally,” said State Superintendent of Education John White. “Success in having enough highly effective and qualified teachers is dependent upon strong partnerships between school districts and colleges and educator preparatory programs.”

In September, the Department released the results of a survey of more than 6,000 educators, indicating the need for future teachers to spend significantly more time in classrooms while preparing to teach. The survey, titled 
Partners in Preparation: A Survey of Educators and Education Preparation Programs, also found few school systems and teacher preparation programs collaborate on school’s employment needs or graduates’ readiness to teach.

Several of the challenges and opportunities in educator preparation discussed today include:

  • PARTNERSHIPS: Meeting Workforce Needs
    • Partnerships should focus on recruiting and selecting academically high-performing candidates who are likely to succeed in the classroom and who meet workforce needs in terms of quantity, readiness, and certification area.
  • STANDARDS: Defining Classroom-Ready
    • Aspiring teachers need preparation experiences that develop the practical knowledge and skills leading to success in the classroom.
  • PREPARATION: Learning Through Practice
    • Aspiring teachers need more practice and strong mentors to master essential knowledge and skills.
  • LICENSURE: Measuring Readiness through Performance
    • Teaching is a complex skill that cannot be measured by paper and pencil tests alone. Principals should be making licensure decisions to ensure that teachers meet the needs of today’s classrooms.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY: A High Bar for All Programs
    • All preparation programs must be held to the equal, high expectations to ensure that they produce skilled educators who match workforce needs.

Louisiana is already facing these challenges head on with success. Earlier this year, the Department announced the first cohort of seven Believe and Prepare pilots, empowering schools and districts to design innovative, classroom- and school-based preparation experiences for aspiring educators. Several of the pilots partnered with colleges and teacher preparation programs to redesign theory-based academic coursework into school-based, practice-oriented coursework. Through this grant, future teachers are receiving comprehensive hands-on training and are drawing on the expertise of Louisiana’s best teachers.

The seven Believe and Prepare pilots are:

  • Collegiate Academies in partnership with TNTP
  • Lafourche Parish in partnership with Nicholls State University
  • Lincoln Parish in partnership with Louisiana Tech University  
  • New Orleans College Prep in partnership with Relay Graduate School of Education
  • St. Bernard Parish (applying as a provider of teacher certification)
  • St. Charles Parish in partnership with Southeastern Louisiana University
  • West Feliciana Parish in partnership with Louisiana State University

“Our experience as a Believe and Prepare grantee has reinforced the belief that schools and external providers of teacher preparation must better coordinate their programming to maximize impact on student outcomes,” said Ben Kleban, CEO of New Orleans College Preparatory Academies. “When the school and university partner speak the same language, align coaching practice, and award certification based on results, we have the opportunity to greatly accelerate both teacher development and student achievement.”

“The Believe and Prepare Grant partnership with Louisiana Tech has provided us a platform for better preparing teachers and better assessing their preparation for potential success,” said Danny Bell, Superintendent of Lincoln Parish Schools. “As the demands for student and school performance increases, it behooves us to examine teacher training programs and work to partner with universities to enhance teacher preparation programs.”

"Our work with The New Teacher Project through the Believe and Prepare pilot program has accelerated the growth of the first year teachers in our network by combining individualized coursework with intensive coaching support,” said Morgan Ripski, President of Collegiate Academies. “Teachers in this program learn the skills that will make them successful in the classroom, impacting student achievement for all of the scholars we serve." 

The forum included state lawmakers, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members, Board of Regents members, district leaders, educators, preparation program staff, teachers unions, and state business organizations.

The Department will continue engaging educators, district leaders, and stakeholders during the development process for future policy proposals and revised policies which will be presented to BESE in 2015.

To view the presentation from the policy forum, please click

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