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August 8, 2012

EdConnect Header - LA Believes

 In This Issue   


  • Introducing the Network
  • Practice the Core
  • Calling all Educational Entrepreneurs!
  • Nearly 12,000 Educators Participate in Training
  • Need Help Explaining School Letter Grades to Parents?
  • Accountability Overview

Educator Resources (Links)


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Dear Colleagues:


Welcome back to school.


The new school year is bringing a new approach to learning in the classroom. Compass will provide teachers statewide with a roadmap to excellence. Likewise, the Common Core standards will challenge educators to produce student work of greater depth. If we seize the moment, we can make this a time of great improvement for ourselves and for our state.


To prepare for the shift to Common Core State Standards, Louisiana is phasing out the mandatory comprehensive curriculum. This year, school leaders and teachers will have the option of using a transitional comprehensive curriculum. Next year, the state will no longer provide a comprehensive curriculum, school leaders will decide what content and text to use, and teachers will be empowered to collaborate and create content themselves. 


This critical change has come just in time. The adoption of Common Core State Standards by 46 states, combined with a proliferation of digital education resources, is creating a national market of innovative, high quality content that can be readily accessed by teachers and students through technology.  In a few years, educators will have more choices in content than ever before - and it's time for teachers to decide what works best for their students.  To read the academic vision for Louisiana, please click here.


More meaningful evaluations will also be coming to classrooms this year.  Half of the evaluation will be based on student growth and half of the evaluation will be based on Compass, a rubric designed to focus evaluations on what matters most to achieve the higher learning expectations established by Common Core.  Teachers will set goals at the beginning of the year, be observed at least twice in the classroom and receive a continuous flow of feedback - all of which will improve instruction for students and foster personal and professional growth for educators.

We have a choice as educators in this state.  We can choose to see change as something that is happening to us, or we can seize the day and choose the tools that will serve our kids well for the future.  We can say that this is the year we are going to make even more of a difference and see even more improvement than we've already seen in Louisiana. 


As a teacher, I welcomed greater freedom in return for greater accountability.  I am confident that this combination of reforms will result in greater job satisfaction for you and rising achievement for your students.


I want to thank you for your work this summer and for your commitment to the work ahead. If you succeed (and I am confident you will), our children will succeed.


Have a great school year.





John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe



To view Superintendent White's Back to School Video Message, please click here


To read the academic vision for Louisiana, please click here.

Introducing the Network


The state has organized districts into "networks" of similarly sized school systems. A team of educators employed by the state supports each network, and it is the job of network teams to help each district successfully transition to Common Core and beyond.  State network teams will help districts establish a process to use the abundance of tools that will be developed as a result of Common Core State Standards and the digital revolution.  Such a process might include expanded common planning time for review of student work; it might include changes to the district's periodic or end-of-semester tests to align with the Common Core; or it could involve increased peer observation in the classroom using the Compass rubric. The tools are statewide, but the process is specific to the district.  Network teams will meet with districts individually to plan; they will convene districts' leadership teams to refine those plans; and they will give feedback to district leaders based on what they observe in schools.


You can find a list of networks here. 



The Louisiana Department of Education is identifying and sharing resources to help you successfully implement Common Core State Standards:


  • Attention! K5 Reading Teachers

    Created by the Center on Instruction, Reading Foundational Skills Progression provides a sequence of sub-skills and instructional examples for teaching the foundational skills in reading in kindergarten through elementary school. The guide can be used for planning and individualizing reading instruction as well as for checking for alignment of the reading foundational skills in their basal series to the Common Core. The guide may be especially helpful to kindergarten and first grade teachers who are required to teach Common Core State Standards this year.

    Reading is the gateway to learning. Students must learn to read so they can read to learn.  Teaching foundational skills in reading is a key part of instruction, particularly in grades K-1, but it does not constitute the entirety of reading instruction. Teachers must balance instruction in reading foundational skills, using a sequence and strategies similar to what is included in this document, with comprehension instruction, using complex text that can be read aloud in interactive instruction.
  • Attention! Grade 3-5 Reading Teachers

    Coordinated by Student Achievement Partners and the Council of Great City Schools, the Basal Alignment Project provides teachers in grades 3-5 with questions and tasks of several basal reading series that have been aligned to the Common Core.  Training materials for engaging teachers in the revision process are also available. To access the revisions and training materials, follow the directions provided in the link above.

For questions about these or other Common Core materials, please contact a network leader or team member. The Department will continue to share such resources throughout the course of the year.

Calling All Educational Entrepreneurs!


The Department has released a Request for Applications (RFA) to identify partners from public schools and school districts, higher education, online education and industry to participate in Course Choice, a program offering innovative, individual courses to students in kindergarten through high schoolBeginning in the 2013-2014 school year, the Course Choice program will enable students and their families to choose courses that will keep them in school and on track for college and careers. 


The application process for Course Choice is a nurturing process designed to help all applicants put forward their best possible application. Educational entrepreneurs including teachers, former teachers, teams of teachers, and alliances of teachers with other organizations are strongly encouraged to apply.  Course Choice offers teachers a first-of-its-kind opportunity to extend the reach of their expertise to students statewide.


To learn more, visit www.louisianaschools.net/coursechoice, or email coursechoice@la.govTo get connected with Course Choice, register online to receive updates and the latest information about the initiative, including the dates, times and locations of outreach meetings, webinars and deadlines, and follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LACourseChoice.

Nearly 12,000 Educators Participate in Training


This summer, nearly 12,000 teachers, principals and school administrators participated in training on implementation of Common Core State Standards and Compass.  Teachers in every elementary, middle and high school - 6,000 statewide - have been trained with the instructional shifts that will ensure students are successful in these rigorous core courses. 


To support implementation of this new Compass evaluation system, 5,500 school leaders and administrators have learned how to accurately observe, evaluate and support teachers. An additional 100 educators participated in online training provided through the Human Capital Information System which supports Compass evaluations and reports.

Need Help Explaining School Letter Grades to Parents?


Check out Raising the Bar: Increasing Expectations, Increasing Student Achievement, a comprehensive, easy to understand guide to Louisiana's new accountability system produced by Stand for Children.


Rayne Martin, Executive Director of Stand for Children Louisiana said, "We put this guide together so parents, educators, and others across Louisiana could have immediate access to the details of the system, how it works, and see for themselves how it focuses on setting high expectations based upon the belief that all children can learn. We're excited to have this great tool and to be able to make it available to the public."



Starting with the 2012-2013 school year, Louisiana will institute a refined, state-designed accountability system, as approved in the ESEA Waiver and recent BESE action. For a high-level overview of the revised accountability system, please refer to Stand for Children's overview document. Please also refer to our ESEA Waiver webpage which includes resources such as PowerPoint overview of the new system and a recently-recorded webinar describing the components of the new system.


For questions, please contact Dr. Jennifer Baird (jennifer.baird@la.gov) or Jessica Baghian (jessica.baghian@la.gov).