September 19, 2012
In This Issue
PASS Writing Prompts
Accountability System
Goal Setting/HCIS
LDOE Website
In the News
Superintendent's Message


Dear Colleagues:


Louisiana Believes has a simple idea at its core: if you believe in our children, you have to believe in the adults closest to our children. In particular, we must have faith that teachers can learn the Common Core through teamwork and practicing, rather than through being told exactly what, how, and when to teach.


This is why in 2013-2014 the state will end its use of a comprehensive curriculum and will ask schools and school districts to instead define for themselves how to help students reach standards. The PARCC assessment prototype test items and the PASS sample test items are examples of tools Louisiana educators are using to learn the Common Core for themselves.


The scale on which our students will be assessed will also be more rigorous in future years. It's for this reason that BESE passed changes to the state's accountability system and that these changes were linked to the state's ESEA waiver. For a great summary of the accountability changes, and for sample cases that show how the scoring works, see this summary from Stand for Children


While the new system is not designed to drop school letter grades, one critical change is that schools will no longer receive credit when a student scores below "basic" on LEAP or iLEAP or below "good" on End-of-Course tests. This shift was made explicitly to align with the PARCC assessments, whose definitions of college and career readiness will far exceed "approaching basic" or "fair" scores. 


At the same time, schools often enroll students who come to the school performing at low levels. Schools that do well with these students should be rewarded, which is why, for the first time, schools will now receive a bonus for making significant progress with students who are below grade level. In schools that test students within grades 3-8, this means that if 30 percent or more of students meet or exceed their projected growth on the value-added model for LEAP or iLEAP in ELA or math, the school will receive a bonus. The same will be true for high school students in grades 9-11 on the Explore/Plan/ACT series. See the Stand for Children summary for more information.


Too many teachers are not provided full information about the accountability system. In this case, the bar has been raised. But just as important, the system calls teachers to focus on students who are performing below level, and to make progress with those students. Let's make sure every teacher has identified those students and is working to make the progress the system now rewards.


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




John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe

New Writing Prompts on PASS

To better prepare students for the Common Core State Standards, the writing prompts on transitional assessments will ask students to read one or two passages and then write a composition that includes evidence from the texts in the response.  Sample writing prompts are provided in the Department's assessment guides, posted here. 


Additionally, the Practice Assessment/Strengthen Skills (PASS) system has been updated to include opportunities for students to practice the text-based writing prompts. The prompts are designed to be similar to those on the LEAP and EOC tests that will be given this school year. Two writing prompts for each of grades 4 and 8 and English II and III are now available. 


A report that includes the student's score and a brief explanation of the score will be returned by the PASS system two school days following the submission of the writing response. Responses are scored for Content, Style, and Conventions.


One writing prompt for each of grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 is also being developed. Those prompts should be available on the PASS system starting October 5.


All students may use PASS with any computer (home, school, whole classroom). The PASS system may be found at

Accountability System


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 the Department's ESEA Waiver webpage which includes resources such as a PowerPoint overview of the new system and a recently-recorded webinar describing the components of the new system.


To further support the transition to the revised accountability system, the LDOE has produced a document of Frequently Asked Questions (available here).

Teacher Goal Setting and HCIS

All teachers across the state of Louisiana are in the midst of setting goals, or student learning targets, for their students.  These student learning targets should be measurable goals for students that are ambitious yet achievable.  The process of setting goals should not require more than a few hours of a teacher's time and should be completed in collaboration with other teachers and administrators at a teacher's school.  Several resources are available to support teachers establishing their goals for the year including a basic overview PowerPoint, the Compass guidebook, and sample student learning targets.

As these goals are established, teachers should be entering them into the Human Capital Information System (HCIS)
.  This is the system that for most districts will serve as the data collection tool for the entire Compass process.

LDOE Revamping Website


LDOE is revamping its website and needs your input. Please send any tips or suggestions for how the site can be improved.


Additionally, a big "thank you" to all of the teachers who have sent email addresses to join the Ed Connect mailing list. Since the last newsletter, the Department has added close to 5,000 new email addresses to its mailing list.  Please keep them coming.  

In the News
Louisiana Department of Education
1201 N. Third Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802

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