November 29, 2012
In This Issue
Compass Q&A
Compass Spotlight
Teacher Feedback
Education in the News

Superintendent's Message


Dear Colleagues:


The progress you have made with your students in recent years is unprecedented. Last year, a full three quarters of all schools in Louisiana showed improvement in student outcomes. Our state owes you a debt of gratitude for everything you did to make that happen.


The challenge ahead of us remains. One in five Louisiana students achieves a college degree. And while that was perhaps adequate for days gone by, the economy of today demands more of our graduates. 


This is why we are adopting Common Core State Standards: to put our students on a level playing field with the future graduates with whom they will ultimately be competing. And it's why we are implementing Compass, to help each of us step up his or her game to this new challenge. 


Compass has required additional effort for many of you this year. You've set quantifiable goals in student achievement and spent time internalizing a rubric focused on both teacher and student actions in the classroom. You've observed colleagues and have been observed yourselves. It has been a year of change (we've compiled a Frequently Asked Questions Document regarding Compass that you can find here.


That change is part of a long journey. As detailed in an op-ed published in last weekend's Times Picayune, Compass was designed by educators during the 2011-2012 year. Ten districts chose to pilot the system in 2011-2012, upon which the Department made changes to simplify the system. This school year, in which there are ratings but no impact on a teacher's tenure status, marks its first implementation on a statewide basis. 


We are continuing to learn how that implementation is playing out at such a broad scale, across 50,000 classrooms. I know it will do more to honor strong teaching - and students' right to strong teaching - than did the past system, which rated nearly 99 percent of teachers as being exactly the same. At the same time, I know we have continued adjustments to make. Based on feedback from educators statewide, we are considering adjustments to the student data we provide teachers at the beginning and end of year, to the manner in which we use value-added data to produce the rating, and to the way Compass measures specific student populations, most notably those impacted by disasters or those already performing at the highest levels.


Over the course of the next month, I will be meeting with teachers across the state to discuss Compass and the Common Core, sharing successes and challenges we are observing, and asking the guidance of teachers on any adjustments. Please be on the lookout for meetings near your school or home. Then, at the beginning of January, we will share proposed adjustments with the public and with our Louisiana Believes Educator Advisory Committees, as well as the Superintendent's Advisory Council. Pending development of good policies, we will propose adjustments to BESE in January.


Please do take a minute to the FAQ document, or, if you haven't already, to visit for more information. And please send any thoughts or questions you have about Compass to


And as always, thank you for all you do for our children,




John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe

Compass Questions and Answers


We're listening! Teachers across the state have sent us questions, concerns and suggestions about Compass. This feedback is helping us identify improvements to make to the system over time. Your feedback is also helping us develop resources that are useful to you now, including tools, like the exemplar video library. In response to recent feedback from you and teachers like you, we've developed this Compass Fact Sheet, which will answer the questions we are asked most frequently and the truth about most commonly heard myths about Compass. 


We hope this document is helpful to you and please share it with your fellow teachers. And, as always, continue to contact us at with any additional questions, concerns or feedback you may have about the system.

Spotlight on Component 3c: Engaging Students in Learning


As Compass observations are beginning to take place across the state, Ed-Connect will include a regular feature on the 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 turn our focus to Component 3c: Engaging Students in Learning with a look at a 6th grade math class.


Student engagement is the centerpiece to the framework for learning and teaching. When students are engaged, they are intellectually active in learning important and challenging content that will prepare them to be college and career ready. The critical distinction between a classroom in which students are busy and one in which they are engaged, is that in the latter, students are developing a deeper conceptual understanding through what they do.


Click here to view a video of Effective: Proficient teacher performance related to this component.


Click here to view an explanation of the evidence and rationale for the Effective: Proficient rating in this video.

Deadline Extended for Louisiana Believes Survey


We're extending the deadline to respond to the Louisiana Believes
Education Committee's communications survey to Friday, November 30.  We have had a tremendous response, and more than 2,000 of you have participated so far. Thank you!  


If you haven't had a chance to participate in the survey, which was designed by your fellow teachers, please take a minute to fill it out this week. Your participation will provide valuable insight into how to share important information about policies that impact you. We value your input and appreciate your perspective.

Teacher Feedback Leads to Improvements


We've listened to your feedback and have made several enhancements to the Human Capital Information System that we hope will make your jobs easier.

  • You can now make printer-friendly reports of student learning targets, observations and professional growth plans.
  • We've increased the space for student learning targets and observations.  There is no longer a character limit for these entries.
  • Evaluators will now be able to evaluate teachers, leaders, librarians and counselors across multiple schools.
  • We've made our log-in process more user-friendly to significantly reduce the number of deactivated accounts.
  • In December, all users will be able to use the system to report student learning targets and have targets rated by their evaluators. 

We welcome your input and look forward to continue working with you to make the system even better for you.  Please visit our online help desk ( to find videos, user guides, and additional support you may need.

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

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