Oct 12, 2016

Proposal includes comprehensive funding package to support teacher preparation programs

BATON ROUGE, LA- The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary (BESE) adopted today landmark regulations concerning the preparation of aspiring teachers. As experienced by other states across the country, Louisiana's schools have significant staffing shortages and struggle to retain high performing teachers. These regulations were designed to provide teacher candidates with a full-year classroom residency alongside an experienced mentor teacher, coupled with a competency-based curriculum that will provide them with the knowledge and skills needed for their first day of teaching.

"With our 2025 plan, we are raising our expectations for Louisiana's K-12 students. That makes it even more important that our new teachers enter the classroom well prepared on day one," said Jim Garvey, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) president. "We are ending the concern that some parents have about being assigned a first year teacher, because now our new teachers will start their careers as second year teachers."

"I applaud Louisiana for adopting new teacher preparation standards that will support all teachers and help ensure they are prepared to lead their classrooms," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. "I saw the impact of this teacher residency model during my recent visit to the state for the Opportunity Across America bus tour, and residencies are among the effective programs we support as part of our new federal teacher preparation regulations."

The changes, backed by the Louisiana Board of Regents (BoR), were informed by Louisiana's nationally recognized teacher preparation pilot program, Believe and Prepare, and two years of public discussion and input through a 2014 survey of 6,000 educators and over fifty meetings and focus groups with hundreds of teacher preparation stakeholders. Teacher candidates admitted into programs in the 2018-2019 year will be the first cohort to experience the required year-long residency and new competency-based curricula.

"All of our universities are committed to preparing high quality new teachers whose students demonstrate growth in achievement," said Dr. Joseph C. Rallo, Louisiana commissioner of higher education, Louisiana Board of Regents. "As a result of BESE's actions today, even deeper partnerships will be formed with school districts to provide new teachers with the depth of content knowledge and meaningful clinical experiences to ensure the future success of their students."

The regulations are accompanied by a plan from the Department for financial support for school systems and preparation programs that includes immediate support through:

  • $7.3 million in transitional funding through 2019 for university administration costs, teacher resident stipends, and mentor teacher stipends and training; and
  • funding for rural school systems and their preparation partners through a five-year, $66.8 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant.

Long-term funding commitments are also beingmade through federal Title II grants in Louisiana's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.

Believe and Prepare, launched in 2014, includes 41 Louisiana school systems and 24 preparation providers, and has impacted 1,204 aspiring and mentor teachers and over 26,000 students statewide. Through this grant program, districts and their preparation partners have been awarded a total of $4.89 million to prepare aspiring teachers through full-year teaching residencies, build a cadre of trained mentor teachers, and meet staffing needs in high-need areas, such as special education.

"Over the last two years, we have seen a major change in the way that school systems and preparation programs work together to predict and address workforce needs as a result of Believe and Prepare," said State Superintendent John White. "The regulations passed today allow us to continue this partnership so that we are able to significantly reduce the teacher shortages facing many of our schools by providing them with high-quality, fully prepared new teachers, and career advancement opportunities for our state's most talented and dedicated veteran teachers."

"Excellent teaching gives students the best chance to grow and fulfill their potential," said Dr. Holly Boffy, BESE vice president. "Today's complex classroom environment and higher academic standards place increased demands on new teachers. By ensuring their readiness for the classroom through the mentorship and residency program, we're investing in the future success of not only Louisiana's kids, but the teaching profession as well."

To continue their commitment to improving teacher quality in Louisiana, BESE and BoR have also been charged with developing a quality rating system for teacher preparation providers in order to provide preparation leaders with information for improvement, and potential students and employers with information regarding program quality. Over the next year, a committee established by BESE and BoR will advise the Department on the development of a multi-measure, Higher Education Act-compliant quality rating system with comparable measures for both traditional and alternate providers, to be phased in over several years.

This process coincides with new federal regulations published today to further strengthen teacher preparation in the U.S. These rules focus on promoting stronger outcomes for all programs, including traditional, alternative, and distance learning, while giving states significant flexibility in how they measure program performance to reflect local needs and priorities.

For more information on these regulations, click here. For more information on Believe and Prepare, click here.

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