August 14, 2013

Superintendent's Message


Dear Colleagues:


As with all new school years, the fall brings new expectations. Our state's students, teachers, principals, and parents talk about it in our back to school video, which I hope you'll take a minute to check out. I'll also be touring the state this fall to check out the most exciting things happening in Louisiana schools. I'm asking educators to design my trip. Click here to send me suggestions of what I should see on the tour or tweet ideas to @LouisianaSupe.


Our kids are just as smart and just as capable as any in America. That's why we have adopted basic expectations in reading, writing, and math that put our students on a level playing field with students across the country.


There is no user's manual for teaching higher-level thinking. We educators will need to learn these new expectations for ourselves. That's why Louisiana has moved away from dictating material that teachers must cover through top-down curriculum. Louisiana educators should be able to make choices about goals for students and planning curriculum.


To help educators make these choices, teachers across the state have developed a Classroom Support Toolbox to understand assessmentset goalsreview instructional video, and plan curriculum. You can also use this Back to School Teacher Guide or consult your school's Teacher Leader for further guidance. And the Ed-Connect text below defines basic steps for planning a solid start to the year.


Let me finally say this about these new expectations: important as it is to raise the bar, it's equally important that we not humiliate schools, denigrate educators, or hurt students in any way as we do it. That's why I've committed that the distribution of school letter grades will remain relatively constant during these transition years. It's also why at the BESE December and January meetings, I will propose to the board that we take a gradual approach to student promotion standards, student graduation standards, and value-added data, phasing in the changes in standards over multiple years, so that no individual is unfairly affected. We need our educators and students to be successful, or else this entire effort means very little.


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





John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter: @LouisianaSupe 

Steps for Planning 2013-2014


Define what students should achieve at the end of the year. In grades K-12 Louisiana educators will be using the Common Core State Standards for ELA and math. As our state continues this transition, teachers can use these tools to understand the shifts called for by the standards. Understanding the standards alone won't be enough, however; even more, it's important to know what mastery of these standards will look like for students. Louisiana assessment guides and end-of-year assessment materials illustrate what students will be expected to do at the end of this year.


Set meaningful goals for your students. While the assessment guides illustrate the ultimate vision of success, teachers can determine what students should be able to do and can set targets to guide their school years. This year, student learning targets should reflect the increased rigor of Louisiana's new standards. Field test results from spring 2013 (available later this month) and estimated value-added targets (available in September) will be helpful sources of information to understand students' performance levels. Sample unit plans also include sample assessments and tasks that can help teachers get an initial sense of where their students are against the rigor required from the new standards; additional example items are also available in the Classroom Support Toolbox and through EAGLE. While each district's and school's process will look different, this student learning target process guide and these exemplars will help teachers set goals that ensure student success and guide classroom choices throughout the year.  


Plan your instruction for the year. Based on the standards and on goals for students, teachers can then develop long-term plans. The new standards call for students to demonstrate more in-depth thinking and communication. Teachers, too, will need to learn this new level of rigor and high-level thinking. Thus, rather than being told to cover large volumes of course material, teachers themselves will need to develop annual and unit plans designed to help students think and communicate in greater depth. At the beginning of the year, teachers can consider the sample year-long scope and sequences designed by Louisiana educators. In ELA, these plans illustrate strong text sets and integrate the new standards. In math, these sample plans bundle standards and illustrate the gaps students might have given the transition. Finally, sample first unit plans for grades K-12 (math and ELA) include end of unit assessments, along with recommended daily and culminating tasks.

A Note to Elementary School Teachers and Administrators


In light of teacher and principal feedback that the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) has not been updated to reflect rigor equivalent to that of the updated 2014 LEAP and iLEAP, the State will not administer the ITBS in 2014 to 2nd grade students. Please see this introductory letter from Superintendent White summarizing this decision.

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

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