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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Alzheimer’s Patient Improvement Due to Hyperbaric Treatment

An article recently published by the Advocate, describes the amazing brain improvement of an Alzheimer’s patient after hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is when the patient breathes in pure oxygen, usually in a pressurized tube or room. While in the room or tube, the air pressure will increase, this enables the patient’s lungs to take in more oxygen. The increase of oxygen stimulates stem cells and growth factors, which actually help heal the body.

Injured tissue needs more oxygen to heal and survive, that includes the brain. Dr. Paul Harch (LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine) and Dr. Edward Fogarty (University of North Dakota School of Medicine) have presented a case of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’ disease“is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life”. This affects about 5.7 million Americans alone. Most of the people being over the age of 65. It also affects about 200,000 people who are under the age of 65.

Deaths because of Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise. 14 million cases are expected to be present by 2050. That’s only about 31 years away. “The load of toxins, food additives, pesticides in chemicals — all take a toll,”said Dr. Harch.

The case report that Dr. Harch and Dr. Fogarty presented was a case about a 58-year-old woman. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her memory and motor skills were beginning to deteriorate. However, after 21 treatments of the Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, her activity and energy levels had improved. And most importantly her mood improved. Her performance of day to day activities improved and she could even work on crossword puzzles.

They then proceeded to 40 treatments. She began to eat more and she also was not as frustrated. Her memory increased which also meant her concentration increased. She was even sleeping better; her bad days became less frequent.

Not only did her actions and symptoms show the results of the treatment, but so did the PET scans that were taken of her brain. Dr. Harch states that even a third grader could notice that there was improvement. In the brain’s metabolism, the whole improvement went from 6.5 percent to 38 percent.   

If this treatment could potentially stop but also, just temporarily reverse what the Alzheimer’s disease did in the first place. This case study is just one out of eleven that will be using hyperbaric oxygen therapy as treatment for Alzheimer’s. Imagine if this is the outcome for all of the patients.

The only problem was that once the treatment stopped, her symptoms came back. Alzheimer’s has no cure, but the process can be slowed down. She was, thankfully, retreated for 20 months and the symptoms had stopped progressing.

Dr. Harch said, “The results of the study suggest that Alzheimer’s can be treated in the long term with hyperbaric oxygen therapy along with drugs”. He also describes how medicine is quite slow, doctors must overcome the misunderstanding of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Which he then goes on to describe as “gene therapy”.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not only for Alzheimer’s patients. Dr. Harch has used hyperbaric oxygen therapy on patients who have nearly drowned. He showed the regrowth of brain treatment, using hyperbaric oxygen therapy on a toddler who nearly drowned. Many doctors believed that the child would never talk or even walk again. But because of the therapy she is talking and she is even waking.

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Louisiana’s Jump Start 2.0 Program

The Department of Education just released a blueprint for public feedback on the Jump Start 2.0 program. Louisiana is taking a step forward to reduce the negative connotations surrounding career and technical education and making sure those with a Career Diploma are ready to enter high-wage career sectors. In a blueprint titled Jump Start 2.0, the state is attempting to further its nationally recognized program Jump Start created in 2014.

The Jump Start program “prepares students to lead productive adult lives, capable of continuing their education after high school.” Students leave the program with a Career Diploma- signifying the students obtained industry mandated and valued credentials. With this program, students are able to leave high school with the ability to secure a high-wage or high-demand career. Jump Start is also an elective path which can be taken by students wanting to further their education.

Before the initiation of Jump Start, less than two percent of Louisiana’s students graduated with a Career Diploma. In 2018, over 90,000 students graduated high school with a Career Diploma- a drastic increase from 2014’s 17,885 students.

With the initiation of Jump Start 2.0, the program will grow even further. The blueprint signifies that:

  1. Every student that graduates with a Career Diploma will show they can succeed in the workplace- fully prepared to work in a high-wage, high-growth industry. The program will increase its workplace learning, prioritize the most valuable opportunities, and better align its 51 possible pathways to career clusters.
  2. Every state resident will know the Jump Start career path as well as the TOPS program. The program will do this by celebrating successful Jump Start graduates, launching an interactive website for students and families, and investing in further professional development for its career and technical education leaders.
  3. Community leaders will create various systems to conjoin education and employment throughout Louisiana without the state interfering. Jump Start will do this by creating new governance structures and supporting ideals that take the experience past high school graduation.

The Louisiana Department of Education released the new blueprint initiative after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) instructed the Department to assess how the Jump Start program offerings aligned with the workforce needs of the state. The Department of Education released a report which stated that while students were gaining more credentials, but not receiving the experience necessary for the high-wage, high-demand jobs available in the region. Of the top 15 industry-based credentials earned, only three were truly aligned with regional needs.

As a way to improve, the Department of Education paired with not only education leaders, but also business leaders across the state to create a more comprehensive blueprint for Jump Start 2.0. The Department then turned to state residents interested in career and technical education in Louisiana. The public feedback form closed March 15.

The Department of Education will now evaluate the feedback to improve the blueprint and share it at the April 2019 BESE meeting. All changes to the program will be carried out keeping in mind the needs and commitments of participating schools, students, and school systems. Some of the changes may be enforced as soon as the 2019-2020 school year.

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