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July 24, 2012

EdConnect Header - LA Believes

 In This Issue   


  • Common Core State Standards & Compass Implementation; Resources for Teachers
  • Course Choice Program Informational Sessions Scheduled
  • Department Names 2013 Louisiana Teacher of the Year
  • BESE Adopts Accountability System for Participating Schools in Louisiana Scholarship Program

Educator Resources (Links)


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Dear Colleagues:


Louisiana Believes is a plan rooted in the idea that the best answers come from the people closest to students. That's why we are providing teachers, school leaders, and district leaders with resources to support our transition to the Common Core State Standards (see details on these resources below, in this edition of Ed-Connect). And it's why we are providing parents and students with choices for their path to college or career.


Last week the state launched the nation's first Course Choice system,  giving students new choices and teachers new ways to educate. Course Choice seeks industry, higher education, online, and teachers themselves to apply to provide courses from which students statewide can choose. Starting in 2013, students and their families and counselors will be able to log on and see the courses in this marketplace for which they are eligible, making career and college courses available to students who before might never have had the opportunity.


Any educator interested in being a Course Choice provider can locate the Request for Application here.  For all other information, please click here.


This week the state also announced an accountability system for private schools participating in the scholarship program, which likewise empowers parents and students to choose. The accountability system ensures students participating in the program take all state tests and that the state reports schools' results online. It then goes further by saying that schools with 10 or more scholarship students per grade, or with more than 40 scholarship students in tested grades, will receive a Scholarship Cohort Index, measured in the same way as a School Performance Score. Schools whose programs receive a passing Index will continue to enroll students, but schools whose index is failing will not receive new students the following year.

See my op-ed in today's Times-Picayune here, or find the policy here.


Teachers should choose the activities best for their students. Principals should choose how to spend dollars and who best to teach our students. Parents should choose the school that is best for children. If we're going to believe in our children, we have to believe in the adults closest to them.


 As always, thanks for all you do for our children.




John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe



Common Core State Standards


As we make the shift to the Common Core State Standards, the Department will be sharing resources we believe will support teachers in the implementation of these rigorous standards. We recently released three such resources which teachers, school leaders, and district leaders can use to support their work. We envision groups of teachers collaborating to determine how best to use these resources to support instruction and district leaders using these resources to support the professional development of school leaders and teachers. We will continue to share such resources throughout the course of the year as they are identified. Please let your network leader or their staff know if you have questions regarding any of the following materials:


  1. Sample Common Core aligned assessment items

    We have provided EAGLE items for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics that measure knowledge and skills identified in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Teachers can include these items in their instructional plans to enhance student learning of the CCSS. In addition, the new items can help educators prepare for the PARCC assessments to be implemented in 2014-2015. The preview contains one set of items for each grade 3-11 in both subjects. Each set includes an introduction, a metadata template showing information about each item/items, and any required reading passages. Item types include multiple-choice, constructed-response, and various technology-enhanced items (e.g., dragging and dropping, copying and pasting, and highlighting)
  2.  Teacher professional development modules

    We have partnered with Student Achievement Partners to share with you four modules focused on the math and literacy shifts. Each module contains a facilitators guide, PowerPoint presentations with thorough notes, hands-on activities, related readings and research, recommended topics for discussion, and web and video resources.
  3. Louisiana Transitional Curriculum

    This year we have narrowed the focus of the Louisiana curriculum and assessments to be focused solely on those standards that overlap with the common core. To see the list of standards for each grade level 
    click here.  We are also providing a transitional curriculum that districts and schools can choose to use that aligns to this revised set of standards for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.  Starting in the 2014-15 school year we will fully transition to the common core at which point there will no longer be a comprehensive curriculum produced by the state.


Updated Common Assessment List 


The Louisiana Department of Education has updated the list of common assessments which aids districts, schools, and teachers in establishing student learning targets.  The updated list now includes DIBELS.  Please see the following link to access the list of recommended common assessments: http://www.louisianaschools.net/compass/sgm_nontested.html.


NEW Compass Resources


With the end of summer approaching, districts are getting in gear for Compass implementation this Fall. In an effort provide support and assistance, the following Compass resources will be released this week and may be accessed using the following links:


Compass Guidebook

Professional Growth Plan

Observation Workbook

Leader Rubric

Leader SLT Guidance

Counselor Rubric

Additional SLTs



The Department has released a Request for Application (RFA) to authorize individual educators and schools to participate in the Course Choice program. Course Choice, which allows families to choose from a range of education course offerings, is an integral component of Louisiana Believes, the state's plan to empower students and teachers. Louisiana is the first state in the nation to implement such a system. The Course Choice Program will enable students and their families to choose publicly-funded course offerings that best match each student's abilities and needs beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. The program will provide Louisiana's students with educational opportunities that will grow our state's economy, create new jobs, and best position Louisiana's families, businesses, and communities for success in the 21st Century and beyond.


LDOE will be conducting a series of face-to-face informational sessions around the state July 23-25, 2012. To register for a session, please click here. Archived informational webinars can also be found on the Course Choice webpage by clicking here.


Anyone who wants to learn more about the Course Choice program - course providers, businesses, Louisiana educational entrepreneurs, professional school counselors, teachers, administrators - can register through the Course Choice webpage by clicking here. Everyone who registers will automatically receive all Course Choice updates and information (including, for example, the times and dates for all of the LDOE's regional Course Choice outreach meetings around the state, deadlines, webinars, etc.)


For more information on the Course Choice program, please click here, or email coursechioce@la.gov.


You can also follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/LACourseChoice.



Empowering educators and parents to make the best choices for children is at the core of Louisiana Believes, the state's comprehensive plan for continued improvement in education. And, during the Sixth Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Department of Education honored nearly 300 educators making choices in our schools and classrooms leading to increased student achievement.


The highlight of the evening was the naming of Dr. Amy Weems, a teacher at Ouachita Parish Junior High School in Ouachita Parish, as the 2013 Louisiana Teacher of the Year. And, thanks to the generosity of Mercedes Benz of Baton Rouge, the honor came with a set of keys and the use of a new Mercedes Benz for one year.


A third generation teacher, Dr. Weems has taught Home Living to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at Ouachita Junior High School for the past year and a half. She has more than 8 years of experience in Louisiana classrooms. Dr. Weems was selected from 24 Regional Finalists for Louisiana's 2013 Teacher of the Year. Also announced during the event were the 2012 Superintendent of the Year, Mr. Wayne Savoy of Calcasieu Parish, the 2013 Teachers of the Year for elementary, middle, and high school, and the 2013 Principals of the Year for elementary, middle, and high school.


The 2013 Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Melissa Williams, Highland Elementary, Ouachita Parish; the 2013 Middle School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Amanda Warren, Lake Harbor Middle School, St. Tammany Parish; and, the 2013 High School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Amanda Baudot, Hahnville High School, St. Charles Parish.


The 2013 Elementary School Principal of the Year is Ms. Nikki Fryou, Hattie A. Watts Elementary School, St. Mary Parish; the 2013 Middle School Principal of the Year is Ms. Judy Grooms, Emmett E. Cope Middle School, Bossier Parish; and, the 2013 High School Principal of the Year is Ms. Nanette McCann, Baton Rouge Magnet High School, East Baton Rouge Parish.



Tuesday, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted to adopt the accountability system for nonpublic schools participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program. Per Act 2 of the Legislature the Department released the accountability system which creates a common bar for measuring student achievement in traditional public schools, charter public schools, and participating nonpublic schools. Act 2, signed into law this April, expanded the scholarship program statewide and is a key component of Louisiana Believes, the state's comprehensive plan to empower educators and parents to make the best choices for children.


The accountability system combines with rules regarding school operations released July 11 to form the "criteria for participation".


Under the accountability system, all participating schools will be accountable for academic results. All schools will administer state assessments and will be subject to regular academic review. Schools with more than 10 students per grade, or more than 40 total students in all tested grades, will not enroll new students if test scores are failing.


There are no traditional public schools with fewer than 40 students in Louisiana. Only 12 alternative schools for students who have been expelled have enrollments below 40 students. Traditional public schools must fail for four years before being placed in the Recovery School District. Charter schools must be failing after four years of operation in order to be closed. To measure schools' rates of success, the Department of Education will calculate a Scholarship Cohort Index (SCI), which will be similar to a public school's School Performance Score. The SCI will only measure the results of students participating in the program and will not measure the school's performance with students not in the Scholarship Program.


Starting with the 2012-2013 school year, SCIs will be released after the school year in which they are based. If a school receives an SCI below 50 (on a scale of 150) based on the second year of participation or any year after that, the school will not enroll additional scholarship recipients for the next school year. Students attending a participating school that receives a score below 50, in any year, will have priority admission to attend another participating school the following year. A minimum expected SCI of 50 is consistent with the new public school accountability system in which a School Performance Score of 50 is considered academically unacceptable.


Following four years of program participation, and in any period of four school years thereafter, if a participating school has scored below 50 for the majority of years in which it received an SCI, the school will not be able to enroll new scholarship recipients until it achieves a score above 50 and a satisfactory quality review by the Department of Education. This policy mirrors consequences allowed for public schools following four consecutive years of low performance.


To read the entire Accountability System as presented to BESE, please click here.