DOE Introduces Teacher Recruitment & Retention Fellowship

Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Education selected school system leaders from across the state to assist in an effort to create a program foe teacher recruitment and retention for the educators in Louisiana’s most vital certification areas, as reported by an LABelieves’ press release.

The State’s Department of Education selected “human capital leaders” from sixteen Louisiana school systems to participate in the fellowship, which will be operating through the national organization, Urban Schools Human Capital Academy. This organization is a non-profit aimed at supporting and bringing together leaders in schools and districts to drive a measurable improvement in teacher and principal quality. The USHCA operates in sixteen states, and has experience in providing new and existing school and district leaders to grow their management skills and become leaders, or human capital leaders.

This particular fellowship will consist of two national workshops and monthly state sessions for this particular Louisiana cohort, which will begin in late October, concluding in Spring 2021. The Louisiana Department of Educationhopes that this effort will bring highly-effective educators and leaders from across the state in order to ensure that every student learns from a high-quality teacher without interruption in personnel.

In the release, State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Cade Brumley stated, “An effective teacher has the power to transform the lives of countless children, which is why we must do everything we can to attract and keep the very best in Louisiana. This fellowship will expose system leadership to what’s working for districts around the nation, while also sparking collaboration that will lead to innovations in our state.”

The sixteen Louisiana school Systems participating in the fellowship program are:

Avoyelles Parish

Caddo Parish

Catahoula Parish

City of Baker School System

Grant Parish

Iberville Parish

Livingston Parish

Morehouse Parish

Ouachita Parish

Pointe Coupee Parish

Rapides Parish

St. Charles Parish

St. Landry Parish

St. Tammany Parish

Tangipahoa Parish

West Baton Rouge Parish

In addition to the monthly Louisiana cohort meetings, the two national workshop portions of the fellowship give state educators the opportunity to collaborate not only with other educators, wherein great strategies, ideas, and materials are shared, but they will also be networking with other human capital professionals from across the U.S, learning the best, tested practices for attracting and keeping effective teachers. While this year the national workshops will be delivered virtually, the national arm of the fellowship plans to focus on how exactly school systems can adjust their recruitment and retention strategic plans during the pandemic.

At their planned monthly meetings, the Louisiana cohort will map out what Louisiana-specific challenges in relation to teacher recruitment and retention are unique to the state, allowing leaders to explore innovative solutions and how best to implement them. Already, the Louisiana human capital leaders have requested the following strategies they would be eager to explore:

  • Building teacher communities across parish lines in order to support educator development and retention.
  • Implementing a structure to share teachers across parish lines, especially in the vital subject areas, such as Advanced Math and Science.
  • Introducing a common interview process for teachers across parish lines.

In Dr. Brumley’s 100 Day Report, the need for an enhanced teacher recruitment and retention program in Louisiana was outlined, and it’s much-needed due to the fact that over have of the Louisiana teachers leaving the profession do so within their first ten years in the classroom. Subjects outlined as having the largest-need areas for teachers are math and science, yet only 8 percent of all program completers earned their teaching certification in math and only 7 percent earned it in science. Needless to say, this fellowship is a refreshing take on a vital challenge facing Louisiana school systems.

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Tulane University Reaches Record Early Decision Applications

Tulane University has become the preferred university for a rising number of the United State’s top students. Since the program was launched in 2016, Early Decision admissions applications have risen 35% of the last year and have doubled since the program launch according to undergraduate admissions data.

Tulane President Mike Fitts said. “Tulane’s growing academic reputation, its innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum, its world-class faculty, its unique academic structure and its location in one of the nation’s most culturally rich cities are some of the many reasons that Tulane is becoming the first-choice, dream school for so many students. We’re also ‘right-sized.’ We’re large enough to support a major research mission, yet small enough to foster one-on-one mentor relationships between students and faculty.”

Tulane’s vice president of enrollment management and dean of undergraduate admission, Satyajit Dattagupta, projects that in 2024, about half the class of the first-year students this fall, will be Early Decision applicants. If a student is accepted as an Early Decision applicant, they agree to enroll in the school they were accepted, which means turning down any offers from other universities.

“Tulane is a brand that is recognized nationally and worldwide. It’s one of the best investments students can make, because the return is exponentially higher than the investment.” said Satyajit Dattagupta.

He also stated that today’s students require a higher level of standard from their preferred colleges and universities. Students who excelled in school have more options for their higher education, and want to be sure that universities live up to their projected standard. Of the accepted Early Decision applicants, about 10% will be international students, which demonstrates another area of growth for the university.

“It’s not surprising, but very reassuring to see that students consider Tulane as their first preference,” he added.

Overall, Tulane has seen a rise in undergraduate applications, with more than 43,000 applications for the incoming fall semester. This is up from 41,365 from last year. Dattagupta projects that the number of students accepted into Tulane compared to the number of who applied to the university will be around 12 percent.

Last year, Tulane was ranked in number 40 in the country’s top national universities in the most recent edition of the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, which was released in September of 2019. U.S. News and World Report also ranked the university’s undergraduate business program 43rd in the nation, and ranked Tulane in 3rd place in Service Learning, number 18 for best college for veterans, and number 42 for most innovative schools.

“There’s no ‘perfect’ university, but there are certain institutions that can be a ‘perfect’ fit for some students. The transformational journey that Tulane provides is unparalleled: academic flexibility, excellence [and] access — combined with our commitment to community service, in the most interesting city in the whole world — I think that message has resonated with our students.”” Dattagupta added.

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Promising Outcome for Schools in the ESSA Plan

On November 6, 2019, the Louisiana Department of Education revealed performance data that detailed how well schools and child care centers across the state prepare their students, from birth to 12th grade. You can find the results online at the Louisiana School and Center Finder.  The public school scores that were announced signify a milestone in the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA Plan), which is a required effort to identify and improve struggling public schools. The results of the scores show promising outcomes for many of these struggling schools that were identified. According to this article from Louisiana Believes:

  • Struggling schools undergoing improvement efforts grew by an average of 4.8 SPS points, compared with 3.9 SPS points among other improving schools.
  • Of the 219 struggling schools identified by the state, excluding alternative schools, 43 schools–20 percent–improved a full letter grade, compared with 15 percent among all other public schools, excluding those already scoring at the “A” level.
  • Of 219 schools initially identified under the ESSA Plan as in need of comprehensive improvement, excluding alternative schools, 36 percent increased by 3 or more school performance score (SPS) points, 40 percent remained generally steady, and 24 percent declined by 3 or more SPS points. By comparison, 29 percent of other schools, excluding alternative schools, increased by 3 or more points.

These results are also a great indicator for the need of bigger improvement in struggling schools. Since the ESSA Plan requires Louisiana to identify struggling public schools, 571 newly identified schools have been added to this list of schools that have consistently struggling groups of students. These schools, which make up 44 percent of all of Louisiana’s public schools, are now required to develop plans for improvement pending state approval and funding. Out of those 571 schools, 89 have received a grade of “F” for two or more consecutive years and 25 have received an “F” for four or more consecutive years, reinforcing their eligibility for inclusion in the state-run Recovery School District.

“Today’s release provides early indications that school systems taking seriously their responsibility to provide a quality education for all children can make significant improvements, even in persistently struggling schools. The release also underscores the urgency of taking action. More than 45,000 students still attend a school rated ‘F.’ This can and must change.” said state superintendent John White.

This release is also effective in providing information for parents and communities with information on early childhood centers, which have been consistently showing improvement. Compared to the past year, 126 more early childhood sites achieved Proficient or above in the 2018-2019 school year. These results also indicate the necessity for expanding access to these high-quality programs, especially for children birth to age three. While 86 percent of economically disadvantaged 4 year olds have access to quality early learning, only 1 percent of our infants, 6 percent of our toddlers, and 26 percent of our 3 year olds do.

Based on the results, 271 schools have been recognized as in need of comprehensive intervention for the next school year and are required to submit their plans for school improvement. The other 300 schools are required to submit a plan for urgent intervention in regards to struggling persistently with groups of students and/or school discipline.

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Louisiana High School Students Offered More Options

Students across Louisiana will soon be able to acquire different skills across various STEM careers, earning college credits along the way. Louisiana Believes tells us more with New Stem-Focused Jump Start Pathways to Provide High Schools with Advanced Skills, College and Career Credentials.

The four new programs are a part of Louisiana’s Jump Start pathways and can earn college credits at Louisiana State University or Xavier University. One of the four has already been approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). The other three have been approved by a BESE subcommittee and only have to be approved by the full board before going into effect.

Jump Start was created by the state of Louisiana to provide high school students with career and technical skills to move into high-demand STEM jobs. The STEM pathway consists of Carnegie credits throughout the STEM field and technical education that could lead to statewide credentials. The four new programs are: Xavier University Pre-Pharmacy, LSU Biomedical Sciences, LSU Computing, and National Integrated Cyber Education Research Cyber Security.

The Xavier University Pre-Pharmacy program was approved by BESE in June. It combines components from both natural sciences and industry practice. The teaching and schooling is to prepare that take this pathway through discussing pharmacy in the classroom and career experience.

  1. The LSU Biomedical Sciences track delves into the world of biomedicine. The pathway spotlights biomedicine to animals and humans. It will give an excellent foundation for students that are aiming for success along the medical track or any other science related field.
  2. The LSU Computing Certification Pathway consists of computer science, computational thinking, and computational science. This pathway is for students that want to find a career in computing.
  3. The National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center Cyber Security track consists of computer science, engineering, and mathematics. The program involves hands on learning and the exchange of knowledge with professionals in a given field. Students evaluate the ins and outs of privacy and security when a lot of communication and interaction is shifting online. They will also study the ethical side of advancement in robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous devices.

Students that complete one of the given pathways will also receive a STEM endorsement on their high school diplomas.

The pathways were created by different groups throughout the region last year. They were submitted by the Jump Start Graduation Pathway Review in the spring. The panel is made of members from the Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Workforce Commission, and the Louisiana Department of Education. Once BESE approves, the pathways are adapted and adopted by Jump Start regional teams.

The Xavier University Pre-Pharmacy Pathway being implemented at the St. John the Baptist Parish STEM Magnet High School. This will make the program the third pathway at the school.

Careers across various STEM fields are the fastest growing not only in the state, but also in the nation. More than half of Louisiana students express an interest in the STEM field, but only ten percent meet the benchmark in showcasing readiness for collegiate level math and science. To counteract this, Louisiana wants to give students the option to experience STEM coursework. They are hoping the four programs assist them in reaching that goal.

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Louisiana Teachers Gather for Annual Summit

The Louisiana Department of Education held the 7th Teacher Leader Summit on Wednesday, June 26th through Friday, June 28th, 2019. More than 6,500 Louisiana teachers and educators, representing almost every school system in the state, gathered at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This annual Summit was created in response to teachers who thought classroom educators should have a larger voice in statewide academic decisions.At the first statewide summit in April 2013, there were 2,000 teachers in attendance. Since then, the number of participating teachers has tripled with an approximated 6,500 teachers in attendance this year. They have since branched out to a blend of year-round-in-person and online trainings to expand the opportunities available to Teacher Leaders.

From Wednesday through Friday, these over 6,000educators spent their time at the Summit attending and conducting professional development training workshops, collaborating with one another as peers, and learning how they can best play active roles in shaping the future of up-and-coming Louisiana minds and the future of education in Louisiana. The collection of training and workshop topics vary from early childhood development and education to school improvement and Louisiana’s innovative assessment pilot, which was enacted to study how the state tackles issues of school accountability, student assessment, data transparency, and school improvement. In addition to these workshops led by Teacher Leaders, the Summit will host “Ed Talks,” which is a speaker series that featured the six national education leaders.

The 7th Teacher Leader Summit ushered in preparations for the 2019-2020 school year and those to follow. The summit overview listed its objectives as follows:

“This year’s event will equip educators in every level of the system with tools and training that provide all students the opportunity to:

  • Build knowledge of the world
  • Read meaningful texts
  • Express ideas through writing and speaking
  • Solve complex math problems
  • Attend a school that treats them with dignity and respect”

The State Superintendent John White stated, “Louisiana has a longstanding commitment to raising the bar, and as a result, more students than ever before are graduating in four years, earning college and career credentials, achieving eligibility for TOPS scholarships, and pursuing post-secondary education and training.” State Superintendent White continued, “During the 7th annual Teacher Leader Summit, we will celebrate those hard-earned gains, but more importantly, we will focus on how our collaborative efforts can make those opportunities accessible to all students, including our most vulnerable.”

Students from The Performing Arts Academy of St. Bernard Parish performed in the convention center’s theater for the inauguration of the event. Superintendent White addressed the current state of education in Louisiana and outlined the academic strategy moving forward into the future. The 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year and recipient of the inaugural Louisiana Public Interest Fellowship, Kimberly Eckert, announced the winner of the Fellowship for the 2019-2020 school year. Lastly, South Lafourche High School was honored with the title of 2019 Louisiana Teacher Leader Summit Premier School.

Watch a stream of the opening ceremony here.

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Legislative Achievements for Education

Recently Louisiana has taken a huge step in furthering the education of the students in its state. Louisiana Believes outlines the achievements made for the education of Louisiana’s students. The class of 2018 achieved the highest graduation outcome, the highest in Louisiana’s history to be exact.  All of the hard work paid off and it showed at the Louisiana 2019 Regular Legislative Session.  John White, the State Superintendent of Education, released a statement starting off with, “It is a good legislative session when our state invests in our schools and when our schools demonstrate such academic returns on that investment.”

Not only did classes prove that education is worth investing in, but they helped state leaders improve even more. The pay for all public school teachers will be raised by $1,000. Teachers are not the only employees receiving a raise, school support personnel’s pay will also increase by $500.

$39 million was added to the education funding formula. This will provide the support that is always needed for public schools to operate. This will also be helpful to the employees that run the schools. $20 was dedicated to early childhood education. This is to help prevent pre-kindergarten programs and services from decreasing due to federal funds not being available. This money will also be used to help increase available slots in childcare for families that are working and low income.

High school students will also be supported. While enrolled in high school they will be able to earn college credits, helping them to further their education after graduation. This will also help high schoolers earn industry credentials for the workforce that can be used after graduation. Task forces will be created to help each of these efforts.

The Class of 2018 showed that investing in education is worth it. John White’s official statement said:

“It is a good legislative session when our state invests in our schools and when our schools demonstrate such exceptional academic returns on that investment. In recent weeks, our state announced that more students than ever before are graduating from high school, earning early college credit and industry-based credentials, achieving eligibility for TOPS, and enrolling in college.  As the session comes to a close, I applaud the Governor, lawmakers, and BESE for continuing that progress, and for heeding the voices of families and educators across our state.”

The 2019 Regular Legislative Session started on Monday, April 8, 2019 and adjourned Thursday, June 6, 2019. Education was not the only group to receive more financial help. District attorneys, assistant district attorneys, and judges pay was boosted. Also, a new law now allows young adults to stay within the foster care system until they turn 21. Services have only been given to those young adults in foster care until they graduate from highschool. Before that, young adult would be kicked out of foster care once they turn 18, even if they are not done with foster care.

Louisiana’s foster care system has not been invested in the past. Within 2 years of being in the system, one in five young adults end up homeless. One fourth of the young adults in the foster care system were in prison, a 2017 report shows. The report came from the Louisiana State Task Force on Youth Aging Out of Foster Care.

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