Jan 25, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La.-The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) on Tuesday approved more than $1.5 million in grant awards for Louisiana universities and school systems to advance the statewide shift to full-year residencies for all aspiring teachers.
Like many states across the nation, Louisiana's schools have experienced staffing shortages and difficulty retaining excellent teachers. In October 2016, BESE adopted regulations to address these challenges, providing 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. Teacher candidates admitted into programs in the 2018-19 year will be the first cohort to experience the required year-long residency and new competency-based models.
"The residency program is a key component to ensuring that new teachers enter the classroom ready on day one," said BESE Vice President Dr. Holly Boffy. "This is an important initiative to further strengthen teaching in Louisiana. Great teachers pave the way for our students to excel academically and achieve their goals."
The funding package, which draws from existing state and federal funds, is based on an approved funding formula that includes grant allocations for Louisiana universities with approved undergraduate teacher preparation programs, as well as 18 partnering school systems.

More than $1 million was awarded to universities to support staff costs related to the transition of preparation programs, and nearly $600,000 was awarded to school systems to provide 233 teacher candidates, or residents, completing year-long residencies and 228 mentor teachers hosting year-long residencies with $2,000 and $1,000 stipends, respectively.

FY 2016-17 Allocations: Universities

Grambling State University
Holy Cross College
Louisiana College
Louisiana State University- Alexandria
Louisiana State University- Baton Rouge
Louisiana State University- Shreveport
Louisiana Tech University
Loyola University
McNeese State University
Nicholls State University
Northwestern State University
Southeastern Louisiana University
Southern University- New Orleans
Southern University A&M College
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
University of Louisiana at Monroe
University of New Orleans
Xavier University of Louisiana

Total Allocation: $1,007,500

FY 2016-17 Allocations: School Systems

Ascension Parish Schools
Bossier Parish Schools
Caddo Parish Schools
Calcasieu Parish Schools
Grant Parish Schools
Iberia Parish Schools
Lafayette Parish Schools
Lafourche Parish Schools
Lincoln Parish Schools
Natchitoches Parish Schools
Ouachita Parish Schools
Rapides Parish Schools
St. Charles Parish Schools
St. Landry Parish Schools
Tangipahoa Parish Schools
Terrebonne Parish Schools
Vermilion Parish Schools
City of Monroe Schools

Total Allocation: $593,000

"Louisiana has recently been nationally recognized for its innovative teacher preparation strategy," said State Superintendent of Education John White, citing recent headlines that praise the state's approach. "These funds are essential to ensuring our preparation providers are supported as they make this transition."
The approval of these allocations and the shift to full-year residencies is part of a broader effort to strengthen and elevate the teaching profession.
In addition to adopting the set of landmark regulations to advance teacher training, BESE and the Louisiana Board of Regents committed to developing a quality rating system for teacher preparation providers to provide preparation leaders with information for improvement and potential students and employers with information regarding program quality.
These various changes were informed by Louisiana's teacher preparation pilot program, Believe and Prepare, and two years of public discussion and input through a 2014 survey of 6,000 educators and more than 50 meetings and focus groups with hundreds of teacher preparation stakeholders.
Educators and preparation leaders alike cite clear benefits to the shift.
"We view the year-long residency as a positive move toward assuring our candidates are better prepared for the realities of today's classrooms and the diverse student populations that occupy them," said Kimberly Walker McAlister, head of the Department of Teaching, Leadership and Counseling in the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development at Northwestern State University. "This extension to a year-long residency better connects theory with practice, making the experience more meaningful for candidates, and may improve both their preparation and retention in a Louisiana classroom."
Stacey-Ann Barrett, a teacher at Boothville-Venice Elementary School who serves as mentor, said she was able to see first-hand the positive influence the program had on her resident.
"Last year, I had a resident who was able to acquire a teaching position in one the best schools in our parish," Barrett explained. "She informed me that when she compares herself to her friends who are currently in education, she feels as if the year-long residency gave her an advantage by allowing her to have a working knowledge of the ins and outs of the daily operation of a classroom from day one. Based on her experience, she felt like she was well prepared for the complexity of the classroom compared to her counterparts who did not have the experience of the year-long residency. She accounts her success to the hands-on learning that she was able to acquire during her residency."
It's not just the residents who prosper, said Dr. Micah Bruce-Davis, assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
"For the mentors, the residency has increased their ability to support the variety of needs for the K-12 learners in their classrooms," Bruce-Davis said. "Some mentors have also mentioned that working with these young educators has contributed to their enthusiasm for the profession."
And that's a plus for all students, Barrett added.
"With highly effective teachers in every classroom, our students are prepared for a future without walls," she said. "Every child deserves to have 'the best teacher ever' experience. That is why it is so important to equip every classroom in Louisiana with a highly qualified teacher so that all children, regardless of their zip code, race or socioeconomic status, have access to a quality education."

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