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June 26, 2012

EdConnect Header - LA Believes

 In This Issue   


  • Finalized Louisiana Believes Plan
  • Louisiana Believes Advisory Committees
  • Course Choice Program
  • Common Core State Standards
    Summer Institutes
  • Compass Training Schedule 

Educator Resources (Links)


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Dear Colleagues:


Last week, I had the privilege of announcing the final version of Louisiana Believes, a comprehensive plan for continued improvement in our schools. The finalized plan is the result of feedback during 22 Town Hall Meetings and four Virtual Town Hall Meetings. I deeply appreciate the time many of you took to participate in those meetings, as they proved critical to improving and concluding the plan, which I hope you'll review in the coming days.


We also announced a round of upcoming visits with school boards around the state in July and August to further discuss the plan and its implementation. In addition, more than 100 educators representing more than 40 parishes have been named to Louisiana Believes Advisory Committees, charged with advising my team and me on the plan's implementation. Look for a link to those names in this issue of EdĚConnect.


As you will see Louisiana Believes has multiple components, including academic pre-k for all students, raising standards for student work, and providing custom support through network teams for districts. One component is the Course Choice program, designed to expand options for our students by enabling families to choose from a variety of publicly-funded courses that best match students' abilities and needs beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. Course providers can include industry, higher education, online providers, and teachers themselves, who can now market courses to students across our state. More information on the Course Choice outreach effort is below, starting with two webinars this week.

But just as important as the components of the plan is the essence of Louisiana Believes. A plan that believes in children must also be a plan that believes in the adults close to them.  District leaders should be able to choose supports best suited for their districts and be able to hire whoever is best to run schools.  Principals should be able to spend funds in the best way for their students.  Teachers should choose what and how to teach. Parents should have a choice of school and coursework for their children. We have an opportunity; if we seize it, we will succeed.


I am looking forward to the years ahead and working alongside each of you.


And as always, thanks for all you for our children.




John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe



The finalized Louisiana Believes plan, released last week, is comprised of basic principles and core elements that are essential to driving continuous academic improvement.  These include the enactment of Acts 1, 2 and 3 of the recent legislative session; the approved ESEA waiver, the transition to the Common Core State Standards; and the implementation of Compass - the state's new evaluation system for educators.  The goal of the Louisiana Believes plan is to achieve one central objective:  ensuring all students, at every grade level, are on track to attain a college degree or succeed in a professional career.


The plan includes many new components and builds upon the idea that belief in children, families and educators, coupled with support, can lead to student success. Among the initiatives detailed in the plan released today are:


Belief in Children:

  • Louisiana will create a unified system of academic pre-kindergartens statewide with standardized benchmarks and assessments
  • Expectations for children will reflect internationally competitive goals through implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Compass
  • Louisiana's school and district accountability system will raise the bar without dropping schools' scores; schools will be rewarded for rigorous coursework


Belief in Educators:

  • Rather than prescribing state-run professional development programs for districts and schools to follow, "network teams" will provide support around the needs and strengths of the districts and their schools; network teams will be assessed in part based on surveys of district leadership opinion
  • Teams of teachers and schools leaders will choose academic material and have autonomy to seek rigorous coursework for students while red tape at the state level is diminished
  • ESEA waiver allows for flexibility in funding decisions, allowing superintendents more flexibility in how they spend $375 million in Title I, 21st Century and REAP funds


Belief in Families:

  • Creation of "Achievement Zones" in districts with large numbers of failing schools
  • Qualifying families have option to enroll students in public and nonpublic schools participating in the Louisiana Student Scholarship Program
  • Course Choice will expand options for students, providing career training as part of the state's core K-12 education program


To watch video of the announcement of the Louisiana Believes plan, please click here.


To view the final Louisiana Believes plan, please click here.



In our last issue of EdĚConnect, we announced that invitations went out to teachers, principals, and school administrators to serve on the Louisiana Believes Advisory Committees, which will meet quarterly starting this year to offer ongoing input on the Implementation of the Louisiana Believes plan.  More than 100 educators have been appointed to serve on the Louisiana Believes Teacher and Principal Advisory Committees. In addition, thirteen district superintendents and charter school leaders will serve on the Louisiana Believes Superintendents Advisory Committee.  Teachers and principals submitted letters of interest to the Department and were selected based on their diverse professional backgrounds and geographic representation, as well as recommendations from other educators and community groups.


For complete lists of the Louisiana Believes Advisory Committees, please click here.


The Department is still seeking parents and community members who would like to serve on the Louisiana Believes Parent/Community Advisory Committee.  If you are interested, please submit letters of interest to louisianabelieves@la.gov by July 2.



The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) recently approved "Course Choice," an innovative program that will enable families to choose publicly-funded course offerings that best match each student's abilities and needs beginning in the 2013-14 school year.  This first of a kind, groundbreaking program fundamentally changes possibilities and opportunities for the children of Louisiana by creating per-course choice with per-course funding and multiple-provider delivery.  The Course Choice program will expand academic options for Louisiana students, focusing first on students in C, D and F schools, but also providing course options for all students who want to enhance their academic performance and job readiness.  The program officially kicks off on July 16, 2012 when the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) releases the BESE-approved Course Choice Request for Application (RFA) and process details.


Before and after July 16, the LDOE will be reaching out to teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators to provide details on the Course Choice program, to answer any questions that arise and to receive feedback and suggestions.  It is likely that some Louisiana teachers may find Course Choice to be an opportunity to deliver instruction not just in their schools, but regionally or statewide as a Course Choice course provider.  The LDOE will actively reach out to Louisiana educational start-ups to help them understand the Course Choice RFA process and develop effective application packages.


Anyone who wants to learn more about the Course Choice program - course providers, businesses, Louisiana educational entrepreneurs, guidance counselors, teachers, administrators, parents - is welcome to participate in one of our upcoming webinars.


  • Course Choice - LEA Informational Webinar
    • Wednesday, June 27, 10:00-11:00
    • To access webinar, please click here
    • To connect with your *TELEPHONE ONLY* 1-888-621-7121 when prompted, enter the Event Number:  701635


  • Course Choice - Provider Informational Webinar
    • When: Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:00 AM-11:00 AM
    • To access webinar, please click here  
    • To connect with your *TELEPHONE ONLY* 1-888-621-7121 when prompted, enter the Event Number: 553505


For more information on the Course Choice Program, please click here.



The Louisiana Department of Education is offering one-day summer institutes for teams of three from each school in the state.  The institutes are being offered at various sites across the state July 9-12 and July 16-18.  The institutes will provide information on LDOE instructional priorities and the supports that the LDOE will provide.  The institutes will include training on the instructional shifts and critical focus areas in the CCSS for ELA and mathematics.  School teams will provide support in developing plans to redeliver the content as well as support for incorporating these shifts in instructional practice.  Most school teams have registered, but those who have not, we encourage you to register your school teams as soon as possible.  The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) District Specialists are coordinating the registration in each district.  The CCSS Specialists should contact Susannah Craig at Susannah.Craig@la.gov for more information.  To view the complete training schedule, please click here.



Dates for the Compass Evaluator Training sessions have been released. The trainings will be offered between July 23, 2012 and August 2, 2012, and session availability is based upon parish/region.  A complete schedule is posted on the website, and can be accessed using the following link: http://www.louisianaschools.net/compass/training_calendar.html.


Registration is required and will be available via Coursewhere.