The Future of Inclusive Education in Louisiana

In a promising development for education in the state of Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has been granted a $10 million award aimed at creating an inclusive education experience revolutionizing career prospects for students with disabilities, as per this news release. This generous grant is part of a broader initiative called “Pathways to Partnerships,” initiated by the U.S. Department of Education, which spans 20 states and seeks to foster collaborations between various agencies. The primary objective is to facilitate a seamless transition into life beyond high school for individuals with disabilities.

Dr. Cade Brumley, the State Superintendent of Education in Louisiana, expressed his enthusiasm for the inclusive education project, stating, “We are excited about this opportunity to further support students with disabilities as they transition to successful lives beyond high school.” It’s part of a comprehensive plan to improve special education across the stateby enhancing the quality of programming and expanding access to resources and services for both students and their families.

Louisiana’s approach to this inclusive education initiative involves piloting a collaborative framework between high schools and Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS). The central aim of this pilot program is to streamline the transition into careers for individuals with disabilities. Key components include providing thorough training to students in career exploration and job readiness. Moreover, the project will place a strong emphasis on innovative activities that create opportunities for students, such as internships and apprenticeships.

Dr. Brumley’s commitment to transforming the state’s educational landscape extends beyond this grant. In a letter issued to system leaders in August, he outlined several crucial steps that the LDOE is taking to modernize special education systems and processes. These measures include:

Special Education Playbook: This resource, which has already garnered recognition from education experts nationwide, condenses years of research into three best instructional practices to support students with disabilities. It serves as a guide and a call to action, aiming to close achievement gaps for these students. The LDOE is actively engaged in supporting school systems with its implementation through a statewide tour.

Enhanced Family Support: The LDOE is establishing a Special Education Ombudsman who can hold confidential conversations with parents. Additionally, an extra complaint investigator is being added to bolster support.

Enhanced Teacher and Leader Support: This involves providing technical support through statewide access to special education law and compliance training. The LDOE will also deploy staff to support school systems with special education compliance. In more severe cases, a special master with direct oversight authority may be placed within a system to ensure comprehensive program enhancements.

The Pathways to Partnerships program, administered by the ED’s Rehabilitation Services Administration, represents a substantial commitment to the improvement of education and career prospects for individuals with disabilities. As the largest discretionary grant of its kind, it underscores Louisiana’s ongoing commitment to extending access to high school credentials, post-secondary education, and employment opportunities through various graduation pathways.

The path to success is carefully mapped out, with full funding awarded to successful applicants for a five-year project period. This long-term commitment allows recipients to pilot, refine, and implement their proposed projects, all while collecting and analyzing crucial project data.

The $10 million grant awarded to the Louisiana Department of Education signifies a momentous step towards fostering better inclusive educational and career opportunities for students with disabilities. Dr. Cade Brumley’s leadership and the multi-faceted approach taken by the LDOE demonstrate their unwavering commitment to improving special education systems and ensuring a brighter future for these students. In our ever-evolving educational landscape, initiatives like Pathways to Partnerships provide hope for a more inclusive and equitable future. Louisiana’s journey towards improved opportunities for students with disabilities stands as an exemplary model for other states to follow.

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LDOE Partners with Scholastic for Free Book Deliveries for Students

The Louisiana Department of Education that the state had partnered with Scholastic to create a new state-funded book literacy program that’s designed to support Louisiana pre-k through 5th-grade students who are not yet reading on grade level. The program was announced via this news release from LDOE., and it is named the Reading Enrichment and Academic Deliverables (READ), and it is designed to provide students who are eligible with the home delivery of free, age-appropriate, high-quality books and other engaging literacy resources.

Jenna Chiasson is the Deputy Superintendent for the Department of Education, and she spoke about the simple process to get started with the program by saying, “Schools are sending home flyers, and these flyers tell parents how to register. They’ll go to the website They’ll be able to select which type of books they’d like to receive and the books along with some family engagement resources, on how families can do activities related to what they’re reading. This is one of many initiatives that we’re doing right now to support early literacy and also to support families, so we’re excited about this new resource.”

It is estimated that approximately 150,000 students in the state are already eligible for the program, as per LDOE’s estimates. The Department’s release said that the purpose of the program was to give those students in need of the access to books and to also help them “discover the power and joy of reading through book ownership.”

By eliminating the barrier of book access, it is the hope of this program that students will be able to improve their individualized literacy to strive and get on grade level. This is also possible because families who are program-eligiblewill be able to select the topics of the books that they will be receiving. This ensures that students will be more inclined to benefit from the program if the books that they are receiving are of interest to them. Additionally, each book that is sent as a part of the program will also include a resource to assist the child to learn by aiding in building reading skills and confidence connected to each book. Because these resources are developed by Scholastic, the publisher of the books, it is virtually assured that these reading resources will be most beneficial for the students to individually connect with these books in the development of their reading goals.

This program comes while the LDOE has been placing an emphasis on improving childhood literacy in recent years as well as in the midst of Louisiana schools implementing several new strategies to better identify those students who need extra assistance and to provide more targeted support for those students.

Louisiana saw the literacy scores of kindergarteners fall from 2021-2022 when it was reported that only 39.2% of kindergarteners were reading on grade level when the previous year the rate was around 41.5%; although, all other grades from first through third saw improvements. Nevertheless, programs such as READ will only benefit Louisiana families and students as they are given free books delivered to their homes at no cost to them, fully allowing them to improve their individual reading levels and strive in their future educational endeavors.

This READ program was created as a popular result of ACT 395 of Louisiana’s 2022 Regular Session as well as other legislative appropriations. Families can see if their child registers, learn more about the program, and register their child at

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LDOE Announces Students to Represent Louisiana at U.S. Senate Youth Program

The Louisiana Department of Education announced the two high school students that have been selected for the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), in which they will represent the state of Louisiana during the 61stannual USSYP Washington Week and receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study. The announcement came from LDOE in a news release that also detailed that the two students, Margaret Moe of Baton Rouge and James Stratton of Shreveport, will also be a part of the 104 national student delegation during the program week.

Being selected as a high school student for the United States Senate Youth Program is a high honor on account of just how competitive the merit-based program is. Only two high school students from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defence Education Activity are selected for the program which is described as being a week-long study of our federal government and those who lead it. The news release described the program week by saying, “the overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations will provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history, and public affairs.”

Both of the Louisiana high school students selected for the USSYP will be joining Senator Bill Cassidy, MD and Senator John N. Kennedy during the 61st annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 4-11. The student delegates will be attending briefings and meetings with Senate Co-Chairs, other Senate leaders, and the Senate parliamentarian and historian; a justice of the Supreme Court, the president, officials from the Departments of Stateand Defense, and other executive agencies, a foreign ambassador to the U.S. and senior members of the media.

Dr. Cade Brumley, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education, spoke about this opportunity by saying, “this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m proud to have these young leaders represent Louisiana at our nation’s capital.They will get an inside look at the American government and develop an even deeper appreciation for our country.”

Baton Rogue’s Margaret Moe, who is a senior at St. Joseph’s Academy, will be serving as a Louisiana representative for USSYP. Moe is a representative of Louisiana in the Youth Governors Association, the president of the Science Club, and the vice president of her campus’s Youth and Government organization. Additionally, she is an accomplished powerlifting athlete for St. Joseph’s Academy and a State Board officer for Louisiana Model United Nations. In the future, she plans to “pursue an undergraduate degree in chemical or biological engineering and political science, along with a public policy and research career ambition at the Centers for Disease Control, United Nations, or World Health Organization.”

Shreveport’s James Stratton, who is a senior at C. E. Byrd High School, will be serving as the other Louisiana representative for the USSYP. Stratton is the president of his school’s Student Council and a school ambassador and member of the Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council. Stratton “aspires to attend law school and later pursue a political career as a legislator or judge.”

The two other Louisiana students who were selected as alternates for the 2023 United States Senate Youth Programwere Baton Rouge’s Edward Carter Mayeux, who attends Catholic High School, and Metairie’s Brinley Belle Pethe, who attends Haynes Academy of Advanced Studies. Students are selected to be a delegate or alternate for the USSYP by their state’s department of education, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity after they are nominated by their teachers and principals for their participation in the program.

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LDOE Provides Tutoring Vouchers to Help Childhood Literacy

It was recently announced that thousands of Louisiana families will receive $1,000 tutoring vouchers in order to help children learn to read, according to this news release from the Louisiana Department of Education.

The launch of LDOE’s Steve Carter Literacy Tutoring Program entails that Louisiana families with children in kindergarten through fifth grade will be connected with high-quality literacy tutors. An online portal has been created so that Louisiana families can learn more about the tutoring vouchers, the program, and even sign up to be notified via email about when the new program will accept student registration later this year.

Created in honor of the late Baton Rouge State Representative Steve Carter, the Steve Carter Literacy Tutoring Program is the result of Act 415 of the 2021 Legislative Session (RS 17:4032.1). As part of the $40 million investment by the Louisiana Department of Education, state education leaders will be able to implement this program as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat Louisiana’s literacy crisis.

Jenna Chaisson, the Deputy Superintendent, expects the program’s investment will bridge Louisiana’s literacy gap. She commented by saying, “the Louisiana Department of Education has invested $40 million dollars to fund the program as part of the state’s comprehensive strategy to combat Louisiana’s literacy crisis.”

Currently, school systems in Louisiana are identifying students who meet eligibility requirements and notifying families accordingly. Essentially, students in grades K-3 are eligible if they scored below proficient on their beginning-of-year screener, and students in grades 4-5 are eligible if they scored below Mastery in ELA on the Spring 2022 LEAP assessment. LDOE directs any parents who are unsure of their child’s eligibility to contact their school for additional information; alternatively, they can email

New Orleans Representative Jason Hughes reflected on Louisiana’s national standings as seen in the recently-released NAEP scores by saying, “a  few weeks ago when the Nape scores across the nation were released Louisiana showed the most growth in the nation amongst 4th graders with respect to reading. So we are on the right track but we have to use every tool out of the toolbox.”

The Steve Carter Literacy Tutoring Program enables students to get more individualized attention from certified teaching professionals who have been approved by the Louisiana Department of Education. Once the program’s student registration opens, families will be able to utilize the tutoring program’s “one-stop shop” for selecting, vetting, and approving of qualified tutoring providers. Families will register their students with the initiative via an easy-to-use quality assurance portal, which is at In fact, in certain cases, a child’s school system may be a tutoring provider, but otherwise, the child’s school system will provide a tutor from its approved list of tutors.

Tutoring appointments are set to be scheduled between the parent/guardian and tutor and may take place at a mutually agreed upon location which can be a physical or virtual location, according to preference. Multi-lingual tutorswill also be available to accommodate students who do not speak English as a primary language.

Dr. Cade Brumley, the Louisiana State Superintendent, commented on the tutoring vouchers by saying, “this voucher is another tool in the toolbox to help kids learn to read. For individualized tutoring, it would cover about 25 sessions over the course of the year. If they want small group tutoring with a group up to 3 students they would be able to receive 35 sessions over the course of the year. Steve Carter believed in helping kids – that’s what this program does. ”

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LDOE Partners with Crimestoppers School Safety Program

It was recently announced via a news release from the Louisiana Department of Education, that the LDOE will be partnering with Crimestoppers GNO in a school safety effort to make violent incidents easier to prevent and report. The goal is for the LDOE to encourage their school systems to adopt the free Crimestoppers GNO Safe Schools Louisiana Program and its accompanying Say It Here mobile app for middle and high schools. The Louisiana State Police, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and Crimestoppers GNO are offering the Safe Schools Louisiana Program to all middle and high schools around the state of Louisiana.

Crimestoppers Safe Schools Louisiana is what is known as a “turnkey program.” The usability of the program is described as being as easy to set up as it is powerful. The program’s mobile app, “Say It Here,” allows its users to report bullying, violence, criminal activity, and mental health issues with complete anonymity. Users can even upload videos and photos of incidents they feel are going unnoticed. Tips that are reported in the “Say it Here” app are processed by a 24-hour multidisciplinary team, 7 days a week. The tips, which are identified by schools, are monitored, vetted, and then sent to the appropriate representatives for proper engagement. If there’s an emergency at any of the safe schools, the safe schools team will be notified immediately for both response and intervention.

In explaining the state’s need for school safety and intercepting threats via the app, Louisiana Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley said, “too often when violence happens on a school campus, someone knew about the attack before it happened. Safe Schools Louisiana is a fast, easy, and anonymous way for people who see something to say something.”

Currently, the Louisiana Department of Education has 40 school systems, and over 500 schools and middle and high-school students that are active participants in the Safe Schools Louisiana program. The program can be implemented in 15 days or less through the following steps. First, the school system signs the initial Memorandum of Understanding, then the school system tip administrative team is identified and trained, and lastly, students are trained to use the app.

In order to help with onboarding, Crimestoppers GNO provides virtual and online training, as well as posters and other items to promote the resource. They also work with schools to embrace the concept of using the anonymous reporting app during special prevention-themed months such as October’s Anti-Bullying Day, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Red Ribbon Week.

In order to make effective use of the Crimestoppers Safe Schools Louisiana program, schools use multidisciplinary teams. Every school team is set to include someone from law enforcement and a lead from mental health or behavioral health in order to direct a student’s path to success. The multidisciplinary team can also request action if any issues are deemed criminal, mention threats of self-harm, or need another specialty’s orientation.

Crimestoppers GNO has operated anonymous criminal reporting resources for over 40 years, and they’ve provided resources and worked in area schools for over 18 years. Crimestoppers GNO serves to follow nationally-recognized best practices on the implementation, processing, and prevention programs. Partnering with the Safe School Louisiana Program provides Crimestoppers GNO with, according to the statement, “a unique opportunity to better understand and embrace the character and needs of our great state.”

As notified in the release, the following Louisiana schools are already implementing Safe Schools Louisiana or are beginning the school safety adoption process: Acadia Parish, Assumption Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Bogalusa City Schools, Bossier Parish, Caldwell Parish, Cameron Parish Central Community School, City of Baker School District, Claiborne Parish, Concordia Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Evangeline Parish, Franklin Parish, Iberia Parish, Jefferson Parish, Lafourche Parish, LaSalle Parish, Livingston Parish, Monroe City Schools, Natchitoches Parish, NOLA Public Schools, Pointe Coupee Parish, Rapides Parish, Sabine Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Charles Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. James Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Martin Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Vermilion Parish, Washington Parish, Webster Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Winn Parish, and Zachary Community Schools.

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LEAP Achievement Increases in Louisiana School Districts

Just before the start of the 2022-2023 school year, the Louisiana Department of Education released the achievement data derived from 2021-22 LEAP scores, and according to this news release from the LADOE, the released scores showed immensely strong student growth across a wide array of both grade levels and school systems.

Quite a few highlights of success were obtained after interpreting the results of the LEAP assessments that were administered during the 2021-22 school year. Some of these highlights include the Mastery rates of achievement that were earned by students in grades 3-8 had improved by 3 solid points in both math and English Language Arts (ELA). Furthermore, 80% of Louisiana school systems improved their mastery rate when compared to their LEAP data from the previous school year, 2020-21.

This data was derived from the results of the LEAP 2025 annual assessment of ELA, math, science, and social studies that is administered to students in grades 3-12. The LEAP 2025 tests aim to measure the knowledge and skills as they are defined by the state’s content standard for each grade. Students have their scores of achievement reported across five levels: Unsatisfactory, Approaching Basic, Basic, Mastery, or Advanced. Those students who score Mastery or Advanced are considered to be proficient and ready for the next grade level.

Louisiana State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley commented on the successes shown in the data by saying, “after the impact of a global pandemic and two of the strongest hurricanes in our state’s history, Louisiana’s students are back on their feet. K-12 education is on the rise in Louisiana because we kept schools open, strategically allocated resources, and developed innovative solutions to recover and accelerate student learning. This progress is a true testament to the dedication of our educators to maintain high standards for students no matter the circumstance. We still have work to do before we’ve fully recovered from the impact of the last two years, but there’s excitement among our teachers and leaders to close that gap and continue moving our students forward.”

Outside of the two milestones of success highlighted above, the release testing date indicated that this past school year, fewer students scored Unsatisfactory, which included an impressive 3-point decrease in students who scored Unsatisfactory in math. Additionally, Mastery rates had improved across all individual subject areas for grades 3-12, and Mastery rates improved among numerous student subgroups. Some of these student subgroups that saw improvement were students with economic disadvantages, students with disabilities, and Asian, African American, and white students.

Just some of the Louisiana school districts that have ranked among the top 10 public school districts in Louisiana for the percentage of students in grades 3-12 who scored Mastery or Advanced on the state’s accountability exams are Calcasieu Parish, Jefferson Parish, Lafourche Parish, Plaquemines Parish, St. Charles Parish, and St. Tammany Parish. The immense amount of improvement was felt across the state; for instance, Livingston Parish Public Schools saw that 41% of their students had scored at the highest two achievement levels on the LEAP 2025 assessments.

Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy commented on the achievement by saying, “Our district has held strong through the continuing pandemic and recent hurricane disruptions. It is our goal as a district to grow from these strong positions and continue to improve performance at all levels.” Furthermore, Lafourche Parish Superintendent Jarod Martin commented on his district’s success by saying, “I couldn’t be prouder. I thought we would take a step back given the challenges we faced. I can honestly say that we expected that. But these numbers reflect a step forward and they far exceeded our expectations. We are just so tremendously proud of the accomplishments given the challenges we’ve faced.”

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