April 17, 2013

Superintendent's Message

Dear Colleagues:


As we near the end of the school year, I find myself reflecting on how much we have accomplished together. We have laid the groundwork for change that will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of students. We should take pride in that fact.


None of us has gotten every part of it right. Sometimes we have disagreed. But, as in teaching, a long-term plan never ends exactly as it was planned. We make adjustments as challenges present themselves. We find opportunities to build on. As any science teacher will tell you, species that don't change with the environment become extinct. And we must protect our desire to help students, even as our environment changes.


I wanted to share the thinking behind two planned adjustments on this journey so that you understand the changes and have my thoughts on them.


First, in response to your feedback over the last week, the state will be returning the 2014 LEAP/iLEAP test to this schedule. I appreciate your guidance on this issue. For further information on the substance of the tests, please see the Classroom Support Toolbox, which has assessment and curriculum guidance for next school year.


Next, as you may have read, today BESE passed final adjustments to Bulletin 741. In this process, the Department and BESE removed layers of tired regulations that restricted educators for years. BESE also reinstated staffing ratios for counselors and librarians, allowing districts to petition the state superintendent for exemptions if necessary. This was a hard-fought compromise on all sides and honors the great work done by professionals in our schools.


We are on a long journey together. Each of these adjustments is a natural part of that long road. But they reflect our collective wisdom about how best to accomplish our mission. For that, and for your partnership, I am always grateful.


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




John White

Louisiana Department of Education

Twitter @LouisianaSupe

In This Issue:
District Support


Teacher Leader Kickoff Event


This week nearly 2,000 teachers, principals and district staff, representing schools across the state, will meet in Lafayette at the Teacher Leader Kickoff to prepare for the state's transition to more rigorous standards and assessments. These efforts to empower those closest to students will begin with a keynote address from a special guest speaker on Thursday. This two day event will be followed by training throughout the summer and into the school year.


Teacher Leaders will focus on: 

  • Resource Awareness: Understanding the shifts Louisiana is making for the 2013-14 school year in Common Core and Compass and understanding all the associated resources.
  • Communication:  Sharing resources and curricular shifts directly and clearly with teachers at their school.              

These meetings, along with the recently launched online Classroom Support Toolboxwill be part of an extensive effort by the Department to provide support for educators as they lead the way in providing the best education possible for students across Louisiana. 


If you are attending this event and have any questions, please e-mail louisianateacherleaders@la.gov.


Click here to watch the Teacher Leader Kickoff live, starting Thursday at 10 am and continuing on Friday at 8 am.  


Department Announces Early Childhood Community Network Pilots


Thirteen communities, representing fifteen parishes, have been selected to participate in a pilot program as part of the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Education Network, established through Act 3 of the 2012 legislative session.  The Louisiana Department of Education, along with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Health and Hospitals, originally planned to select 5 applicants for pilots; however, based on the number and strength of applications received, decided to expand the program. 


Through the Community Network Pilot program, school districts, child care providers, Head Start programs and other stakeholders within a community will work together to provide all children quality and equitable early childhood services, allowing policymakers to learn from their efforts prior to full implementation of the statewide network in fall 2015. These pilots will serve nearly 23,000 children across the state, from infants to five years old, as well as students with disabilities. The pilots will officially launch on July 1; however, work will begin immediately to help communities get their networks up and running. 


See below for parishes represented by the chosen pilot programs:




Coordinating Partner Agency


Ascension Parish School Board


Northwestern State University


Calcasieu Parish School Board


Cameron Parish School Board


Iberville Parish School Board


Lafayette Parish School Board

Lincoln, Jackson, and Union Parish

Lincoln Parish School Board


Agenda for Children


Children's Coalition for Northeast

Pointe Coupee

Pointe Coupee Parish School Board


Rapides Parish School Board

St. Tammany

St. Tammany Parish School Board

West Baton Rouge

West Baton Rouge  School Board



Prekindergarten Performance (PKP) Spring Data


Please forward to early childhood coordinators for Assumption, Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Jefferson, Lincoln, Monroe City, Rapides, St. John, and St. Landry Parishes


LA 4, Title 1, 8g, and ECSE teachers should enter spring 2013 Prekindergarten Student Performance Checklist data on the Prekindergarten Performance (PKP) site from April 22 - May 10. Please note that after May 10, the PKP site will not be accessible and no changes can be made. 


If you have questions regarding the PKP site, please contact Nicholy Johnson at (225) 342-3647 or nicholy.johnson@la.gov.


End-of-Year Process Resources


As we approach the end of the year, teachers and evaluators will evaluate student learning, determine areas of teacher strength and improvement, and begin planning for the next school year, as part of the Compass process. Over the last few weeks, the Department has released several resources to support this end-of-year process.


For Districts:

For Teachers:

Please contact compass@la.gov with any questions about these resources or the Compass end-of-year process.



Update on Principal of the Year Process


A rubric for the initial portion of the 2014 Principal of the Year selection process is now available. This tool provides principals and districts with guidance on application expectations and will be used to identify semi-finalists from the pool of nominees submitted by LEAs.  LEAs may, but are not required to, use this rubric to identify their Principal of the Year nominee. Only one nominee may be submitted per LEA. 


LEAs must submit their applications to excellenteducators@la.gov by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, 2013. 



Updated Compass Teacher Evaluation Guidebook Available


The Compass Teacher Evaluation Guidebook has been updated to reflect Compass improvements announced in January. A 2013-14 edition of the guidebook will be released with additional updates this summer.


If there are any questions, please email compass@la.gov

Assessment and Accountability

Louisiana Graduation Rate Reaches All-Time High


Last week, the Department announced that Louisiana's cohort graduation rate increased for the second consecutive year to an all-time high of 72.3%. This marks almost a one percentage point increase from last year, a six percentage point increase over the last five years, and over a ten percentage point increase over the last decade. In 2011-2012, districts made great strides towards improving student outcomes. Of the 71 districts across the state, 39 increased the percentage of students graduating in 2012. To see graduation rates by district click hereCongratulations and thanks to educators and school and district staff for their tireless work to improve outcomes for Louisiana's students. 



2013-2014 Testing Dates - Updates and Clarifications


Forward to all district test coordinators.


After discussion with district superintendents and administrators, the Phase 2 testing for spring 2014 as well as iLEAP and LAA 2 will remain the week of April 7-10, 2014 (as was announced last year). Since Phase 2 testing is unchanged, spring 2014 LEAP, iLEAP and LAA 2 test scores will not be released until Friday, May 23, 2014.


Based on further feedback from the districts, EXPLORE (grade 8 and 9) and PLAN (grade 10) will be moved from March 18, 2014, which is the same date as the statewide administration of ACT (grade 11). EXPLORE (grades 8 and 9) and PLAN (grade 10) will now take place from March 10-14. Districts will be responsible for selecting the administration date as well as the make-up dates. The revised schedule is available here.


If there are any questions, please contact Bernadette Morris at bernadette.morris@la.gov.



Spring 2013 Online Field Test (LEAP/iLEAP) Participants


Please forward to district/school test coordinators, technology coordinators, and curriculum coordinators.


At the request of districts, the spring 2013 Common Core-aligned Online Field Test window will be extended.  Students may test any day/time between May 6th and May 22nd (previously May 17th). For a list of other important dates visit https://la.drcedirect.com and click on documents on the left side of the page.



EOC Testing Technology Alert


Please forward to district/school test coordinators and technology coordinators of schools participating in EOC testing this spring.


As a reminder, Internet Explorer (IE) 10 is not supported for this administration.  If you allow automatic updates, your lab and classroom computers could be updated to IE 10.0 without your knowledge. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to disable these automatic updates from occurring.


If there are any questions please contact the EOC Tests Help Desk at 1-866-810-1095 or via e-mail at EOChelp@LouisianaEOC.org.

School and Course Choice

Course Choice Process and Current Status/Challenges


Course Choice provides students and families across Louisiana the opportunity to take online and face-to-face courses in a broad range of subjects - core academic subjects, foreign languages grades 3 - 12, career and technical education courses, Advanced Placement courses and a broad range of electives.


The Course Choice Registration System came online in mid-March. Student enrollment will continue until August and to facilitate this process: 


  • Schools should assign counselors to review and approve student / parent requests for Course Choice through the school counselor module of the online registration system.
  • Schools should approve course enrollment requests submitted by parents and students or contact the Department if questions arise regarding eligibility. 


If districts have questions about establishing a school ID or password on the Course Choice Registration System, or any other questions about the system, please have them contact the Course Choice Counselor Assistance Center at CourseChoice@la.gov, or (877) 453-2721.


If you have a policy question or concern about Course Choice, please have them contact Ken Bradford (Ken.Bradford@la.gov) or Dave Lefkowith (Dave.Lefkowith@la.gov)



Course Choice Professional School Counselors Informational Webinar Series


Please forward to all professional school counselors. 


Course Choice will provide students and their families with access to rigorous college and career course offerings that best match students' abilities and needs beginning SY 13-14.  The registration process began on March 11, 2013.  The Louisiana Department of Education will offer online training to all school-based professional school counselors on their roles and responsibilities in the Course Choice approval process at one of the following dates/times:  


  • April 17, 2013 from 3:00-4:30 p.m.
  • April 25, 2013 from 9:00-10:30 a.m.
  • May 1, 2013 from 4:00-5:30 p.m.


Webinar login information below: 


  • Click here to log on.
  • Toll Free: (877) 336-1831Meeting Access Code: 2416498# 

The Course Choice Program is an integral component of Louisiana Believes, the state's plan to empower students and teachers. For more information go to www.louisianacoursechoice.net or email coursechoice@la.gov.



State Approved Skills Certificates (SASC)


Please forward to all principals and counselors.


Requests for a State Approved Skills Certificates (SASC) should be submitted as per the instructions in the attached SASC Handbook (see page 3). For additional information, please contact Patricia Felder at patricia.felder@la.gov.



SASC Handbook


Parental Consent to Bill Medicaid Form


Federal regulations regarding parental consent to bill Medicaid were revised February 2013.  The regulations now require two separate forms; one for Initial Notification and Consent and one for Annual Notification.  The new forms have been uploaded into SER and  LEAs should begin using the new forms when updating IEPs.  For more information, contact Janice Fruge at Janice.fruge@la.gov .  A copy of the new forms are also attached below.



2013 Parental Consent to Seek Medicaid Reimbursement


TOPS Legislation 


Senate Bill 202 by Senator Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa) adjusts the courses to qualify for TOPS and provides for a weighted TOPS GPA calculation when students earn dual enrollment and AP credit. It is the first step in aligning the Core Four diploma with TOPS, and will simplify the graduation process for parents, students, counselors, and teachers. The Department is pleased to have been able to work with Senator Nevers, the Board of Regents, and the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation on this bill. In the fall, the Department will ask BESE to adopt similar revisions to the college-preparatory diploma requirements to achieve full alignment and simple requirements for students, meaning one unified set of courses needed to graduate with a college-preparatory diploma and to receive a TOPS scholarship. 


This effort complements emerging work to provide students pursuing a career credential with a similarly simple and relevant pathway to success after high school. The Department will issue a career and college diploma blueprint for comment later this month, with BESE considering regulations later this fall.


Physical Education Substitutions


There has been a recent revision to the graduation requirements (Bulletin 741: The Louisiana Handbook for School Administrators) regarding allowable substitutions for physical education credit. The policy revision specifies the allowable substitutions for the required one-half credit for PE II.  To receive credit for physical education, the following course codes must be used for a substituted activity:  Marching Band (190110), Cheerleading (190111), Dance Team (190112), or Extracurricular Sports (190113).  
Southern Regional Education Board to Host Professional Development Conferences 
The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), as part of its annual High Schools That Work (HSTW) Staff Development Conference, is offering the Common Core State Standards Networking Conference, July 15-17, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. This cost-effective conference will showcase the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC), instructional tools developed by the Gates Foundation to help teachers meet the new standards. For more information click here.

In addition, SREB will host the 27th Annual HSTW Staff Development Conference immediately following the CCSS Networking Conference on July 17-20, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. This conference is one of the nation's leading professional development conferences for teachers and leaders, featuring over 500 practitioner- and expert-led sessions that will share proven tools, best-practices and instructional strategies to graduate more students college and career ready. For more information click here.

Literacy Events available in Greater New Orleans


Events that promote parents reading to and with their children are scheduled for this month. Parents will receive a free age appropriate book for participating with their child. The trainings focus on three age groups which include early childhood, elementary age students and middle school students.


Space is limited, so please register now to reserve your place in the training and your free book. Register by calling (504) 888-9111, toll free (800) 766-7736.


Education In The News 



Louisiana Parents Have Power in Their Children's Education, Study Says


High School Graduation Rate Rises


LA4 is a Proven Success


Help Us Do Our Jobs


Jindal Defends School Vouchers In NBC Interview


Education Nation Event Puts Louisiana Schools In Spotlight


Grad Rates Can Improve


Louisiana Parents are Reaping Benefits of Education Reform, School Choice


State Posts Record-high Graduation Rate for 2012


Tensas Leads La. in Improved Graduation Rates


Preschool Benefits Students for Years, Education Committee Hears


LA4 Results Verified; Students Do Better


DOE to Push for Career Education Partnerships 


LDOE Contacts
John White
State Superintendent of Education
(toll-free) 877.453.2721 
Twitter @LouisianaSupe

LDOE Links

LDOE Website

Contact Us



Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter    View our videos on YouTube