October 31, 2012
In This Issue
Compass Feedback
Compensation Tools
Compass Spotlight
Education in the News

Superintendent's Message


Dear Colleagues,


Last week's announcement that more than three quarters of all Louisiana public schools made academic progress last school year is, first and foremost, a testament to your efforts and those of your students. Our schools face both ambitious goals and significant challenges. This year, they surmounted both. It was a victory for the future of our state. Congratulations.


To see a complete summary of the results, you can find a presentation here. Our schools achieved last year's mission. Now we look ahead to the mission in years hence. Today, fewer than one in five Louisiana students achieve a college or university degree within ten years of entering high school. This is too few if we are to prepare students for a world in which most jobs will require some education after high school. We owe our students more rigorous preparation for life after high school. 


Our assessments, as you know, will gradually change, starting with changes to this year's writing prompts on ELA assessments. For sample test items, click here. Over the next three years in fact, our assessments will be completely remade, such that by 2015 we will use ELA and math assessments developed through the PARCC consortium. See sample PARCC test items here. Schools statewide are gearing up for a shift toward greater test complexity and demonstration of evidence in response to tests.


Louisiana is also shifting its accountability system to align with the Common Core standards. No longer will scores of "approaching basic" or "fair" be given points. The ACT and AP tests will have greater weight in the system. And schools that make significant progress with students below grade level will receive a bonus. For a summary of the 2013 system, see this document.


This new system and these new tests represent the next mission. While the accountability system is designed to not drop schools' letter grades  if they maintain the same level of performance on tests, the tests will gradually be more difficult. See a PowerPoint here for an overview of the new system and an understanding of some of its specifics. 


Our state owes you its gratitude for your accomplishments. Hundreds of thousands of students are on a better life path because of your work. Now we challenge ourselves once again. It will be a long journey, and we are just at the start. But the reward will be, as it is today, preparing more kids than ever before for a productive life beyond high school. I thank you for achieving that critical mission, and I look forward to more greatness in the years to come.


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




John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe

Compass Feedback
Superintendent White has been traveling the state talking with teachers about Compass and the Common Core (you can follow his travels on Twitter @LouisianaSupe). Compass was developed in light of Act 54, which was passed by the Legislature in 2010. The Department of Education then formed a committee of educators and policy makers, the ACEE Committee, which shaped the Compass system. In 2010 the state began issuing value-added data for all teachers, and in 2011 the state launched a pilot version of Compass, making resulting changes to the rubric, goal setting, and evaluation processes in 2012. Now that the system is in full implementation, the Superintendent and his team have pledged to continue making adjustments as a result of its outcomes and the guidance of principals and teachers.
"Compass can help principals and others to give teachers feedback in areas where they're succeeding and in areas where they need improvement," said the Superintendent. "It will be good for students as a result. But it remains new, and we have 55,000 teachers. So we are always looking to make any tweaks that can make it better for educators and kids." 


If you have thoughts on specific elements of the Compass system and how the process can be improved for administrators, teachers, and students, please email compass@la.gov.

Recognizing Educator Excellence through Compensation


Act 1 gives districts the power to build compensation systems that recognize and reward our best teachers, encouraging them to stay in the classroom longer with the students who need them most.  This means that virtually every district will develop a new compensation system for educators.


It is important to note that the law requires that no teacher's salary can be decreased. The law also does not include any changes to a teacher's pension.


Moving away from the standard salary schedule to a system that honors our most effective educators, particularly those who serve in a priority school or subject, is complex work. For that reason, the Department of Education will continue to offer support to district leaders as they develop new compensation systems.  Last week, the Department met with roughly 200 district leaders to discuss their plans for changing teacher compensation systems.  In addition to reviewing Act 1's requirements, district leaders discussed the factors they hope to recognize in their new compensation system.  They also explored two models that districts may choose to adapt and use.  The presentation and models are available here


If you have questions about your district's new compensation system or have suggestions, please contact your district's leadership. 

Compass Spotlight: Questioning and Discussion Techniques


As Compass observations are beginning to take place across the state, Ed-Connect will include a regular feature on individual components within the Compass Teacher Rubric, along with videos of exemplar performance, to help educators and evaluators become more familiar with the content of the rubric. This week, we'll take a closer look at Component 3c: Questioning and Discussion Techniques.


Effective questioning is instrumental to student success. Oral or written, questions help teachers know the extent to which students are reaching the level of rigor required by the lesson's objective. When questions reveal student misunderstanding, the teacher must adjust instruction such that more students are achieving the objective.


Click here to view a video of Highly Effective teacher performance relative to this component.

Click here to view an explanation of the evidence and rationale for the Highly Effective rating.

Education in the News


Advocate - 10/28/2012 - Zachary school scores at top again

Times Picayune (Opinion) - 10/28/2012 -Voucher program provides vital option (Letter)

Daily News  - 10/28/2012 - Our View: Washington Parish schools show gains

Advocate - 10/27/2012 - BESE: No voucher changes expected

Town Talk - 10/26/2012 - Several Central Louisiana school show improvement in state scores

Daily News  - 10/26/2012 - Our View: Performance scores offers hope for BCS schools

Shreveport Times - 10/26/2012 - Students and Louisiana first lady get into holiday spirit

Advertiser - 10/25/2012 - Education officials will trim course provider list

Advocate - 10/25/2012 - St. Helena school district earns accreditation status

Times Picayune (Opinion) - 10/24/2012 - Louisiana students can't wait for better options

Times Picayune - 10/24/2012 - Jefferson Parish turnaround schools show modest progress

Baton Rouge Today - 10/24/2012 - About 85 percent of East Baton Rouge schools show growth

Advocate - 10/23/2012 - District school rate improves

Zachary Plainsman - 10/23/2012 - Zachary schools ranked #1 for 8th year in a row

Advertiser - 10/22/2012 - French immersion scholarships available for Vermilion Parish students 

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

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