Oct 19, 2015

Department Launches Toolkit to Serve as “How-To Guide” for Believe and Prepare Cohorts

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today released the Believe and Prepare Annual Report and a Partnership Toolkit during a meeting of more than 100 Believe and Prepare pilot leaders in Baton Rouge. The report highlights best practices gleaned from the first two cohorts of the Believe and Prepare educator preparation grant program. These lessons include:

  • Yearlong apprenticeships preparing aspiring teachers for classroom realities: Aspiring teachers should experience at least one full year of practice through an apprenticeship or residency as part of their preparation program.
  • Expert mentor teachers are crucial component of successful apprenticeships: The mentor teacher role is a defining factor in the success of yearlong apprenticeships. Aspiring teachers should participate in a preparation program designed around requiring mastery of core teaching skills and competencies versus “seat time” requirements.
  • Aspiring teachers learn best when theory is combined with practice: Teacher preparation programs should include more practical coursework in teaching methods, classroom management, and working with students with special needs.

These best practices from cohorts 1 and 2 serve as the basis for proposed policy changes the Department will recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in the coming year to grow these practices statewide.

“By making improvements to the way teachers are prepared and certified, and by building career advancement opportunities for the state’s most talented teachers, Louisiana is strengthening the teaching profession and ensuring our next generation of teachers is prepared to succeed on day one in the classroom,” said State Superintendent John White. “Better prepared teachers in the classroom will result in better educated students who will be ready to succeed in college or the workforce.”

“Teachers need rich, extensive, and supportive opportunities to hone their craft,” said Renee Akbar, Ph.D., Department Chair, Xavier University. “The Believe and Prepare program is an excellent forum to facilitate the development of strong partnerships between schools, school systems, and universities to achieve this goal.”

“The Louisiana Department of Education recently awarded the Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS) $200,000 to partner with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to help facilitate innovations in teacher preparation,” said Donald Aguillard, Ph.D., Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent. “The grant award provides a strong culminating clinical experience that will assist prospective teachers in becoming learner-ready through a planned year-long student teaching experience. The benefit to the Lafayette Parish School System will be 30 UL teacher candidates working closely with 30 LPSS mentor teachers.”

Additionally, the Department launched a Partnership Toolkit, a “how-to guide” that provides guidance and tools to help build, grow, or strengthen a Believe and Prepare partnership that centers on the goal of preparing aspiring teachers who can support all students on their path to attaining a college degree or a professional career. Believe and Prepare pilot leaders from around the state convened today in Baton Rouge to discuss the toolkit, and share ideas on how to improve teacher preparation programs.

The Department launched the Believe and Prepare Educator Grant Program in spring 2014, and has awarded $4.89 million to three cohorts since then. Cohort 3, the largest of the cohorts, was recently announced with the Department awarding $2.85 million to 41 school systems and charter schools, bringing the total school systems working to prepare more than 800 teacher candidates to 62. Many of these school systems are partnering with preparation programs to build a statewide corps of more than 500 mentor teachers who will work with teachers preparing for certification, 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.

To read the Believe and Prepare Annual Report in its entirety, please click here.

To view the Partnership Toolkit, please click here.

To learn more about Believe and Prepare, please click here.

# # # # # #