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,
Louisiana Department of Education