Sep 01, 2015

Third Round of Grants Aimed at Building Mentor Teacher Corps, Growing Residency Model

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education released today a Request for Applications for the third cohort of Believe and Prepare Educator Preparation Grants, aimed at partnering Louisiana school districts with educator preparation programs to better prepare aspiring educators for the classroom. Currently, 21 school systems in cohorts 1 and 2 are working to prepare 224 teacher candidates for the classroom through Believe and Prepare grants. The goal of cohort 3 is to reshape the role of the mentor teachers to building a statewide corps of mentor teachers, grow the number of aspiring teachers in full-year residencies up to 1,000 for the 2016-2017 school year, and increase the number of special education teachers preparing to teach in Louisiana. The deadline for cohort 3 applications is September 18 with the grant announcements happening the week of September 21.

Cohort 3 recipients will collaborate with cohorts 1 and 2 to develop tools, resources, and guides enabling the success of new partnerships. Through this third round of Believe and Prepare grants, the Department will make awards totaling up to $2.8 million to school systems and their preparation program partners. These grants will be funded through Title I School Improvement 1003a funds and IDEA funds. The third cohort of grant recipients will operate from October 2015 through September 2016.

“Our students are continuously proving they are as smart and capable as any in America. A major factor in furthering their achievement is ensuring we raise not only their expectations, but those of our classroom teachers,” said State Superintendent John White. “Through Believe and Prepare, we are striving to strengthen our teacher preparation programs, and in turn better train aspiring teachers to be classroom ready from day one.”

Recruiting and training the next generation of teachers is a school system’s first step to ensure that new teachers are classroom ready, every classroom is staffed by an effective teacher, and all students are on a successful path to college and career. Identifying exceptional teachers to train aspiring teachers is one of the most important parts of that plan.

As part of a shift in focus, cohort 3 grants will help school systems partner with preparation providers to develop Believe and Prepare programs increasing the number of certified special education teachers, one area where many district see a critical shortage.

“There has been a significant shortage of special education teachers across the state. As a parent it is concerning because each child with an IEP has unique needs, and having a qualified, prepared teacher is crucial to the success of students with disabilities,” said Ashley McReynolds with LA Teach. “I am very thankful to the Department for working on the Believe and Prepare initiative, and hopeful that this will provide schools an opportunity to hire much needed highly-qualified special education teachers who will be prepared for any student who walks through their classroom door.”

Through the Believe and Prepare: Educator Preparation Grants, a total of 35 school systems and 19 preparation providers have developed partnerships to achieve this vision.  These pilot programs have focused on:

  • Providing aspiring teachers with more time to practice through successful apprenticeships and residencies,
  • Recruiting mentor teachers who have achieved exceptional results with all students,
  • Developing practical, skills-based coursework, and
  • Meeting schools’ staffing needs through strategic recruitment and preparation.

“We are excited to be partnering with Louisiana Tech University this year,” said Don Coker, Ouachita Parish School Superintendent. “This partnership has allowed us to capitalize on the expertise of our most effective teachers to provide quality field experiences for aspiring teachers in an authentic setting that we believe will also yield big outcomes for our students.”

“We are appreciative of the Louisiana Department of Education for providing this opportunity through the Believe and Prepare initiative to bolster our teacher preparation programs by supporting the introduction of yearlong clinical residency and co-teaching team mentoring models into instructional plans. This component of Believe and Prepare has supplied the lever of change necessary to partner with school districts in a fashion that is mutually beneficial to both entities in that our teacher candidates receive yearlong apprenticeship from highly qualified teachers while the school districts reap the benefit of having energetic students trained in research-based best practices to share instructional duties and responsibilities. While the school districts and teacher preparation programs benefit from the implementation of these innovative and practical models, perhaps the greatest benefactors are the PK-12 students of this state,” said Don Schillinger, Dean of the College of Education at Louisiana Tech University.

Over the last year, the Department awarded two rounds of Believe and Prepare grants totaling nearly $1.4 million to districts and preparation programs partnering to implement innovative models for teacher training.

The first cohort included the following school systems:

  • 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

The second cohort included the following school systems in the Community of Practice Program, building on cohort 1’s most promising practices to improve recruitment tactics, develop practice-based coursework, expand the role of school leaders in preparation, and identify and train highly effective mentor teachers to support candidates’ growth:

  • Algiers Charter School Association in partnership with TNTP
  • Ascension Parish (private provider of teacher certification)
  • Caddo Parish (private provider of teacher certification)
  • Crescent City Schools in partnership with Relay Graduate School of Education
  • Cypress Academy in partnership with Vanderbilt University
  • DeSoto Parish in partnership with Northwestern State University
  • FirstLine Schools/KIPP New Orleans/New Orleans College Prep in partnership with Relay Graduate School of Education
  • Lusher Charter School in partnership with Tulane University
  • Orleans Parish in partnership with Xavier University and Nunez Community College
  • Ouachita and Union Parishes in partnership with Louisiana Tech University
  • Rapides Parish in partnership with LSU-Alexandria
  • St. Landry Parish in partnership with LSU-Eunice
  • Terrebonne Parish in partnership with Nicholls State University
  • West Baton Rouge Parish in partnership with LSU

Cohort 2 recipients in the Community of Development Program using this school year as a planning year include:

  • ARISE Schools of New Orleans in partnership with TNTP and Match Education
  • Bossier Parish in partnership with LSU-Shreveport
  • Calcasieu Parish in partnership with McNeese State University
  • Celerity Schools in partnership with the University of New Orleans
  • East Baton Rouge in partnership with the LSU Cain Center
  • Louisiana School for the Deaf (applying as a private provider of teacher certification)
  • Morehouse and Richland Parishes in partnership with the University of Louisiana at Monroe
  • Plaquemines Parish in partnership with Our Lady of Holy Cross College and School Leadership Center
  • Rapides Parish in partnership with Louisiana College
  • Sabine Parish (applying as a private provider of teacher certification)
  • St. John the Baptist Parish (applying as a private provider of teacher certification)
  • St. Martin Parish
  • Tangipahoa Parish in partnership with iTeach

For more information on Believe and Prepare, please click here.

To access the Request for Applications for cohort 3 of Believe and Prepare, please click here.

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