December 12, 2012
In This Issue
Bulletin 741 Webinar
Compass Spotlight
Top Gains Schools
Help Desk Now Live
Virtual Town Hall
Education in the News

Superintendent White presents $150,000 to Lafayette Parish for Believe and Include.  Photo by The Advertiser

Superintendent White presents an $8,453 Top Gains award to Tioga Jr. High. Photo by The Town Talk

Superintendent's Message


Dear Colleagues,


Over the last few weeks, we've held award ceremonies in Lafayette and Rapides Parishes to honor Top Gains schools and present Believe and Include grant awards. I've been privileged to attend these events to honor the work you are doing in some truly remarkable schools. Seeing firsthand what you are accomplishing for students, especially those with special needs, has been inspiring. You can read more about the work of our Top Gains and Believe and Include schools in the news section of Ed Connect.


While many of you are already familiar with our Top Gains Program, Believe and Include is new this year and rewards teachers and schools who have developed innovative approaches to educating students with disabilities. I am so excited to see the gains you will make with often hard-to-serve students, and I'm looking forward to honoring you and others who serve the mission of educating our most challenged kids. 


While on the road, I've been holding meetings with teachers to discuss how we can use Compass to keep improvement going and to prepare ourselves for the Common Core State Standards. It's clear that you are working hard to understand and internalize the Compass standards for your practice; the results are evident in schools statewide. It's also clear to me that we should make some adjustments to Compass so it is a true teacher development tool. That really is the purpose, after all: to provide you with feedback and to assist in improvement. Here are some concerns many of you have asked us to address in order to make the tool as useful as possible:

  • The rubric could be more helpful if it were accompanied by greater guidance or more examples for what each row and descriptor actually looks like in practice.
  • Goal setting and value-added data would be more valuable if you were provided greater data about your students at the start of the year.
  • In some cases, the evaluator should be able to use more than one source of evidence or one data point in determining your effect on student learning.
  • Teachers of some student populations - those affected by a disaster or those already performing at the highest levels - may not be well served through having the value-added data stand as the only means of measurement.

In January we will post a set of proposed adjustments that will help Compass become the development tool it is meant to be. We will also be working with our Louisiana Believes Advisory Committee members on these adjustments, and we will propose some changes to BESE at the board's January meeting. In the meantime, if you have thoughts on suggested changes or areas of concern, please don't hesitate to contact me. We owe you the best professional development tool possible.


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




John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe

Bulletin 741Webinar


Louisiana Believes starts with the idea that if you believe in our children, you have to believe in the adults who are closest to them. You have to believe that these people - their teachers and their parents - should be empowered to make decisions on behalf of children. 


But a quick look at BESE Bulletin 741 here reveals just how many regulations exist in our state. And too many of these rules and regulations require that bureaucrats in Baton Rouge make decisions for children they will never meet. That is why, in order to allow you to focus on teaching, and in order to return decision making power to those closest to kids, we've proposed significant changes to this bulletin here.  These changes would allow schools themselves to design plans for each child; they would further remove old processes that contribute little to student achievement.


A link to a webinar on these proposed changes will be posted to our website. BESE will be studying these proposed changes in the month to come, hearing a recommendation from us in January.  

Continued Spotlight on Component 3b: Questioning and Discussion Techniques

As Compass observations continue across the state, we will continue to 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 focus again on Component 3b: Questioning and Discussion Techniques with a look at a kindergarten math class.


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 another 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.

Act 1 Compensation Information for Teachers

Districts statewide are adjusting their compensation systems so as to honor great teaching. As districts update their compensation plans, we want you to have the most up-to-date information about the new requirements.  Please access our Compensation Guide by clicking here.  If you have questions about your district's plan, contact your school leader or your district's HR office. 

AP Frequently Asked Questions
Advanced Placement (AP) classes provide students with access to rigorous coursework that prepares them for college.  The AP model further helps educators to prepare for the rigors of the Common Core State Standards. This year, the state trained nearly 300 educators to prepare them for teaching Advanced Placement. Students taking and passing Advanced Placement courses earn high marks in the new state accountability system, and students passing an AP test at a 3 or higher earn the highest points in the system. In an effort to support your continuing implementation of AP courses, we've developed the attached FAQ document. If you have additional questions or need more information, please contact Ernise Singleton at Ernise.Singleton@La.Gov.
Top Gains Schools



Superintendent White visited Tioga Junior High and Acadiana High School this month to present checks for $8,453 to each school for earning the Top Gains School designation. While most schools in the state made academic progress last year, these and other Top Gains schools went above and beyond, hitting ambitious targets set at the outset of last school year. To see the full list of Top Gains schools, click here

Help Desk Now Live 


Help Desk Now Live 


The Human Capital Information System is meant to help educators and schools track progress in the Compass system. Now, to make sure your questions are answered as quickly as possible, the Human Capital Information System Help Desk is now live. Teachers and leaders may use the Help Desk to find solutions to issues they are experiencing, including access to videos, quick guides, and user manuals.  In the event an issue is not resolved from the available resources, you may complete a help desk ticket.


Enhancements on the Way

  • The Human Capital Information System will soon allow for you to report your Student Learning Target results and have them rated by your evaluators.  
  • To protect your evaluation data, the system requires that you change your password every 90 days.  The process to change your password is quite simple.  When your password expires and you try to log in, the system will ask you to replace your old password with your new password. 
Compass Changes: LIVE Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Teachers and Principals


We are continuing to make adjustments to Compass that will make it a true professional development tool. Your experience with Compass is critical to this process. On Wednesday, December 19 at 5:30 p.m., Superintendent White will host a LIVE Virtual Town Hall Meeting to discuss the adjustments to Compass and to learn your thoughts on how it can be improved.


Again, the LIVE Virtual Town Hall Meeting will be held Wednesday, December 19 at 5:30 p.m.

To participate in the Virtual Town Hall Meeting, please click on the following link:


Questions may be submitted to Superintendent White beforehand, beginning today, as well as during the live broadcast, by emailing

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

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