Unlocking Success: Louisiana’s Bold Steps in Early Literacy

Louisiana has proudly ascended to the pinnacle of a national ranking, standing tall as a beacon of excellence in early literacy policies, as per this news release from the Louisiana Department of Education. According to the recently unveiled Early Literacy Matters resource by ExcelinEd, Louisiana finds itself in an elite group of states, standing shoulder to shoulder with Arkansas and North Carolina, as the only trio to have fervently embraced all 18 of ExcelinEd’s early literacy fundamental principles.

Dr. Cade Brumley, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education, expressed his satisfaction at the state’s achievements, remarking, “I was intentional about calling out our state’s literacy crisis early in my tenure and am pleased to see Louisiana leading the way with common sense reading reforms.” Dr. Brumley commended the concerted efforts of policymakers, educators, and parents, highlighting their crucial role in ensuring Louisiana studentsreap the benefits of these bold educational reforms.

The 18 early literacy fundamental principles underscore a comprehensive approach, encompassing policies for early identification, family engagement, teacher training and support, as well as intensive reading intervention. These principles serve as a robust foundation to equip students with the essential reading skills vital for their learning journey, graduation, and future success.

Among the noteworthy aspects of Louisiana’s commitment to literacy, the state mandates that all K–3 teachers undergo science of reading training. Additionally, a universal reading screener for K–3 students, parental notification for those identified with reading difficulties, elimination of three-cueing systems, and individualized reading plans for students with reading deficiencies are integral components of the state’s comprehensive literacy plan. Louisianastands out for monitoring students’ progress within a multi-tiered system of support and targeting their needs through evidence-based interventions grounded in the science of reading.

Joining the ranks of Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina, Mississippi and Florida trail closely behind with a score of 17 out of 18, while Texas achieved a commendable 10 out of 18.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jenna Chiasson emphasized the need for sustained dedication and innovation, recognizing that progress in early literacy requires continuous effort. The results, she noted, reflect the positive impact of Louisiana’s commitment to early literacy, with advancements apparent both in classrooms and legislative initiatives.

Louisiana’s strides in literacy are evident in the Education Recovery Scorecard, revealing that the state is among the select few where average reading achievement in 2023 surpassed 2019 levels. Furthermore, Louisiana’s 4th graders soared to the top spot nationally for reading growth on The Nation’s Report Card, showcasing the effectiveness of the statewide initiative. Economically disadvantaged 4th graders in Louisiana demonstrated a remarkable improvement, moving from 42nd to 11th overall for reading proficiency between 2019 and 2022.

The Early Literacy Matters resource emerges as a crucial educational tool, addressing the paramount issue of learning to read. This pioneering website offers a 50-state literacy map, presenting a comprehensive overview of each state’s adoption of early literacy fundamentals. It not only serves as a legislative compass but also delves into states’ implementation strategies, providing insights into how they are enhancing literacy outcomes and narrowing learning gaps.

ExcelinEd, the driving force behind this initiative, remains committed to supporting state leaders in transforming education. Their focus on educational quality, innovation, and opportunity, both within and outside the traditional system, positions them as advocates for a broad range of student-centered policies.

In conclusion, Louisiana’s position at the forefront of the national list for its comprehensive literacy policy reflects a commendable commitment to fostering early literacy skills. The state’s success story offers valuable lessons for educators, policymakers, and parents nationwide. As we celebrate these achievements, it becomes essential to understand the core concepts that underpin effective early literacy policies.

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Navigating the Future: Insights from Louisiana’s Teacher Preparation Data

The Louisiana Department of Education has recently unveiled the 2023 data for the Teacher Preparation Quality Rating System, marking a significant milestone in the state’s ongoing efforts to enhance the quality of teacher preparation programs, according to this news release from LDOE. This system, mandated by federal regulations, serves as a crucial tool for teacher preparation providers to glean insightful information for improvement. Simultaneously, it empowers aspiring educators with the means to make informed decisions when selecting top-notch programs.

In the extensive library of the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), one can now explore the Quality Rating Scores from the 2020-2021 school year. Remarkably, these scores have reached their pinnacle since the system’s initiation in the 2017-2018 academic year. The data paints a positive picture, with over 95 percent of Louisiana’s teacher preparation provider programs either maintaining or advancing their ratings.

Delving into the specifics, the state’s undergraduate pathway achieved a score increase of 0.6, reaching a commendable 2.6, classified as Level 3 Effective. Similarly, the post-baccalaureate pathway witnessed a boost of 0.4, securing a 2.8, also categorized as Level 3 Effective. To grasp these nuances, it’s essential to comprehend that an undergraduate teacher preparation pathway entails the completion of a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree program. On the other hand, a post-baccalaureate pathway is tailored for individuals with an existing Bachelor’s degree seeking alternative certification.

An encouraging trend emerges as post-baccalaureate pathways consistently outperform their undergraduate counterparts. The data reveals that 78% of pathways either improved their score or maintained the same, and an even more impressive 85% increased their level or maintained it. Additionally, more than half (52%) of the pathways elevated their domain score for Meeting Workforce Needs, emphasizing a critical aspect of teacher preparation.

What sets this year apart is the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (BESE) decision to utilize the results for ongoing program approval decisions. Unlike previous years, where the data served informational purposes only, 2023 signifies a pivotal shift towards a more action-oriented approach.

Understanding the significance of a teacher preparation program is vital. These are post-secondary, state-approved courses of study, indicating that enrolled teacher candidates have fulfilled all state educational and training prerequisites to be recommended for initial certification. The Teacher Preparation Quality Rating System evaluates providers on a four-point scale: Level 1 Ineffective, Level 2 Needs Improvement, Level 3 Effective, and Level 4 Highly Effective.

This rating is grounded in three domains:

These domain-specific insights are indispensable tools for aspiring teachers in choosing programs that align with their needs. Moreover, they aid providers and the LDOE in making informed decisions regarding the necessary support for continuous improvement.

It’s worth noting that the LDOE’s commitment to transparency and guidance for educators is not a recent development. In 2021, the initial results of the Teacher Preparation Quality Rating System were shared, and the year before, the collaborative effort of the LDOE, Louisiana Board of Regents, and BESE resulted in the launch of LouisianaTeacherPrep.com. This online platform serves as a valuable resource for prospective educators, facilitating the selection of a teacher preparation program that best suits their aspirations.

In conclusion, Louisiana’s Teacher Preparation Quality Rating System data for 2023 reflects a positive trajectory, showcasing advancements in teacher preparation programs. The focus on transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement is evident, reinforcing the state’s commitment to fostering a high-quality education system.

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How UL Lafayette’s HERO Initiative Shapes the Energy Transition

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative that aims to bolster energy resiliency in the state. With an $87 million award, the university is set to play a pivotal role in the implementation of Community Resilience Hubs and workforce development as part of the state’s broader energy resilience initiative known as Hubs for Energy Resilience Operations (HERO), as per this news release from the school.

The primary objective of the HERO initiative is to provide communities with access to electricity and essential services during natural disasters, a critical need underscored by the increasing frequency and intensity of such events. In a significant announcement made on Wednesday, UL Lafayette disclosed that it secured a monumental $250 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, complemented by a matching contribution of $250 million from state partners. This funding constitutes the largest single award in the university’s history, signaling a substantial commitment to the project’s success.

To achieve the ambitious goals set forth by HERO, the state will kickstart a comprehensive integrated community energy planning process. The cornerstone of this effort involves deploying a modernized network of Community Resilience Hubs, powered by distributed solar and battery microgrids. These hubs are strategically designed to enhance emergency response operations by integrating seamlessly with existing utility-owned electric grid infrastructure and backup generation assets.

Dr. Terry Chambers, the director of UL Lafayette’s EDA-funded Green Hydrogen Center of Excellence, emphasized the university’s commitment to community resilience. He outlined plans to implement Community Resilience Hubs by establishing solar and battery microgrids at three key university research centers: the Louisiana Solar Energy Lab in University Research Park, the New Iberia Research Center, and the Cleco Alternative Energy Center in Crowley. Additionally, portable solar and Wi-Fi pods will be deployed to further extend the reach of these hubs.

In collaboration with Power Strategies, a Louisiana-based clean energy design, engineering, and planning company, UL Lafayette will undertake four additional projects. These involve the construction of solar and battery microgrids at Louisiana National Guard bases in Baton Rouge, Hammond, and Sulphur. The microgrids will serve communities in the aftermath of disasters, providing essential support to first responders and creating safe spaces with power, food, water, and communication facilities.

Crucially, the university is not only focusing on infrastructure development but also on building the necessary expertise. Earlier this year, the Louisiana Solar Corps was established to train workers for the installation of microgrids. This initiative aims to connect workers with internships in solar companies, ultimately leading to permanent employment. UL Lafayette is partnering with Xavier University, Louisiana Green Corps, and the Louisiana State Building and Trades Council to expand the Louisiana Solar Corps program. The expansion will cover microgrids as well as solar energy training across various pathways, including pre-apprentice to apprentice programs and two- and four-year educational routes.

Furthermore, the University is establishing a Center of Excellence for Crisis Events within its National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies Institute (NIMSAT). This institute focuses on strengthening public-private partnerships and leveraging advanced information technologies to enhance national resilience in the face of potential disasters.

UL Lafayette’s robust background in both sustainable and traditional energy technologies uniquely positions it as a leader in this project. With assets such as the Louisiana Solar Energy Lab and Antoun Hall, a state-of-the-art indoor solar laboratory, the university has long been a hub for solar research, technology development, instruction, training, outreach, and workforce development.

In conclusion, the HERO initiative spearheaded by UL Lafayette is a multifaceted and ambitious project that addresses not only immediate needs for energy resilience during disasters but also focuses on long-term sustainability and workforce development. By integrating cutting-edge technology, education, and community engagement, the university aims to set a national model for effective disaster response and energy resiliency.

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Louisiana Students Achieve Remarkable Academic Success

In a triumphant display of resilience and dedication, Louisiana students have surpassed pre-pandemic school performance scores for the second consecutive year, marking a significant milestone in the state’s academic journey. The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) unveiled the 2023 performance scores, revealing a noteworthy improvement of 1.4 points to reach an impressive statewide school performance score of 78.5, according to this news release from the LDOE. This remarkable achievement follows the state’s commendable effort in matching its pre-pandemic score of 77.1 in the preceding year, showcasing a consistent upward trajectory.

Dr. Cade Brumley, the State Superintendent of Louisiana, expressed his elation, acknowledging the unprecedented challenges the state has faced in recent years. He remarked, “Louisiana has faced unprecedented disruptions over the past few years, and these scores are a testament to the efforts of so many people across our state.” Dr. Brumleyemphasized the collective commitment to education, highlighting the scores as evidence of the unwavering dedication to fostering academic success amidst adversities.

The Louisiana Department of Education did not limit its celebration to overall performance scores. Early Childhood Performance Profiles were also released, providing a comprehensive view of publicly-funded child care centers, Head Start programs, and schools catering to children from birth to five. These profiles, inclusive of ratings derived from meticulous classroom observations, showcase the state’s commitment to nurturing a solid foundation for young learners.

The latest early childhood data reveals a historic surge in instructional support and engaged support for learning scores. Notably, child care facilities experienced the most substantial growth, with an increase in the quantity of sites rated as excellent, despite a 13% rise in the overall number of early learning sites in Louisiana. This underscores the state’s dedication to promoting quality early education and fostering a conducive learning environment for its youngest students.

Moving beyond early childhood achievements, the release of Advanced Placement (AP) results for the 2022-23 school year further solidifies Louisiana students and their academic prowess. A record-breaking 8,697 high school seniors earned a 3 or better on their AP exams, a 19% increase from the pre-pandemic total in 2019. This remarkable accomplishment not only reflects individual success but also signifies a collective commitment to elevating educational standards across the state.

In addition to AP success, the Louisiana 2023 senior class witnessed the first annual increase in average ACT scores since 2017, defying the national trend of a drop in averages. Louisiana students have consistently demonstrated improvement, with scores increasing for the second consecutive year, and an impressive 75% of school systems showing improvement on the 2023 LEAP.

Highlighting the accomplishments of Louisiana’s 4th graders, the state led the nation in reading growth, contributing to an overall rise in the state’s ranking from 46th to 42nd among states on the NAEP from 2019 to 2022. Furthermore, the state’s Pre-K-12 education earned a commendable five-place improvement in the U.S. News & World Report Rankings.

These outstanding achievements underscore the commitment of Louisiana’s education system to continuous improvement. The state’s students have recorded the most significant year-over-year increase on state assessments since 2016, with students showing marked improvement in both English Language Arts (ELA) and math.

As we celebrate these achievements, it is essential to understand the significance of performance scores. Since 1999, Louisiana has issued school performance scores based on student achievement data, utilizing letter grades (A-F) to communicate the quality of school performance to families and the public. This transparent system ensures accountability and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

In conclusion, Louisiana’s educational journey is marked by resilience, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. The state’s students, educators, and administrators have overcome unprecedented challenges, demonstrating that in the face of adversity, Louisiana’s commitment to academic success remains unwavering.

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Louisiana’s Commitment to Military Families in Education

In an admirable move to support military families and enhance the teaching profession, Louisiana is breaking down barriers that have long hindered military personnel and their spouses from becoming educators, as per this news release from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). LDOE has instituted a groundbreaking policy that streamlines the process for active military personnel and their spouses who hold teaching certificates from other states to obtain a Louisiana teaching certificate. This progressive initiative, sanctioned by House Bill 472 during the 2023 Regular Legislative Session, was met with unanimous approval from the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

The heart of this new policy, as outlined in House Bill 472 of the 2023 Regular Legislative Session, grants a valid Louisiana teaching certificate lasting five years to military personnel and their spouses currently stationed in Louisiana, who already possess a teaching certificate from another state. However, to ensure that the highest educational standards are maintained, applicants must also meet all other prerequisites, such as background checks and criminal history reviews, as mandated by state law and board policy. “This is a practical approach to provide additional teachers for students across Louisiana,” remarked State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “With a strong military presence in our state, it’s an honor to help make lives a little easier for families serving our country.”

This recent development reflects Louisiana’s ongoing commitment to improving teacher recruitment and retention by expanding pathways to the profession. These proactive measures include:

Consistently raising teacher pay: Louisiana has been unwavering in its support for educators by consistently approving across-the-board pay increases for teachers and support staff. Notably, the state has allocated $25 million during the 2023 Regular Session to be directed towards differentiated compensation. This innovative approach allows school systems to allocate funds where they are needed most, including recruiting and retaining teachers in critical shortage areas, rewarding highly effective educators, supporting teachers in high-need schools, and recognizing teachers in leadership roles.

Supporting new ladders into the profession: Recognizing that there are various paths to becoming an educator, Louisiana has introduced policies that enable professionals from diverse backgrounds to embark on a teaching career. Whether individuals are pursuing the traditional route, an alternative path, or are eager to share their industry expertise in career and technical education courses, the state is facilitating their entry into the profession. One of the recent developments is the creation of the Associate Teacher Program, introduced in Act 99 of the 2023 Regular Legislative Session, which allows school systems to hire teachers with associate degrees who are enrolled in teacher education preparation programs, providing them with mentorship and ongoing professional development.

Expanding the pre-educator pathway in high schools: Louisiana recognizes the importance of nurturing an interest in education from a young age. To that end, over $1 million has been allocated to school systems to expand pre-educator pathways. These programs offer high school students the opportunity to take education courses, fostering their interest in the teaching profession. In the 2022-23 academic year, the pre-educator pathway was made available in more than 70 schools across 35 school systems.

Elevating teacher voice: To ensure that educators’ perspectives are at the forefront of educational decision-making,Dr. Brumley initiated the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council. Now in its second year, this council of educators convenes quarterly to provide valuable feedback on ongoing education initiatives and offer insights into how Louisiana can further enhance student outcomes and the teaching profession.

In addition to these impactful initiatives, the Louisiana Department of Education‘s latest policy represents a significant stride in supporting military families and bolstering the teaching workforce. It acknowledges the challenges military families face when relocating and endeavors to ease the transition by recognizing their qualifications and enabling them to continue their teaching careers in the state.

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Shaping Success: Louisiana’s LEAP Scores Ascend for Subsequent Year

In a laudable achievement, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has unveiled the much-anticipated LEAP results for the 2022-23 school year via this news release. Marking a momentous occasion, Louisiana’s students have, for the second consecutive year, demonstrated remarkable progress on the state assessments gauging proficiency in English/Language Arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies across grades 3 to 12. With the release of these results, the educational landscape in Louisiana shines brighter than ever before.

For those eagerly awaiting the unveiling of these scores, the anticipation has paid off. The latest figures indicate a noteworthy two-point surge in the percentage of students deemed proficient, showcasing an inspiring leap in educational excellence. Further illuminating this accomplishment, a staggering 75% of school systems across Louisiana have made significant improvements from the previous academic year to the current one.

The driving force behind this success, the diligent efforts of educators and students alike, deserve an unequivocal applause. Dr. Cade Brumley, the State Superintendent, heralds this achievement as a testament to the ceaseless dedication demonstrated within Louisiana’s classrooms. He remarks, “I’m pleased to witness the academic ascent in Louisiana for the second consecutive year—a true testament to the tireless work transpiring within Louisiana’s classrooms every single day. While this progress is indeed encouraging, it’s imperative that we remain steadfast in our commitment to implement necessary practices and policy shifts, as a significant number of students still fall below the proficiency threshold.”

Delving into the metrics that define this educational advancement, the mastery rate, an essential yardstick of progress, has observed a two-point elevation, ascending from 31 in the 2021-22 academic year to 33 in the current 2022-23 period. This metric, which gauges the percentage of students in grades 3 to 12 who have achieved Mastery or beyond on LEAP and consequently are deemed proficient, stands as a beacon of educational achievement.

The LEAP assessment outcomes for the 2022-23 academic year paint a fascinating picture of educational growth: Third-grade students in English/Language Arts (ELA) have witnessed a watershed moment, marking their first improvement in five years. Their mastery rate experienced a five-point escalation, soaring from 38 in 2021-22 to an impressive 43 in 2022-23. This monumental achievement harks back to a period before the pandemic, specifically the academic year 2017-18.

Notably, last year’s third-grade cohort has exhibited remarkable progress as fourth graders. The mastery rate for these students in ELA stands at an admirable 44, a significant six points higher than their previous year’s score of 38 as third graders. This unprecedented leap indicates the substantial strides these students have undertaken within a single year of instruction.

High school students, the bastions of future innovation, have showcased their dedication to learning by demonstrating improvements in five out of six subject areas. Their scores have surged by five points in algebra (from 34 to 39), three points in biology (from 25 to 28), two points in English I (from 41 to 43), one point in English II (from 46 to 47), and an impressive three points in Geometry (from 28 to 31). This year also heralds the implementation of a more rigorous set of social studies standards, known as the Freedom Framework, which will be rolled out in the academic year 2023-24.

A closer examination of student subgroups highlights a pervasive improvement in mastery rates across the board. African American students have exhibited a four-point surge (from 15 to 19), economically disadvantaged students have achieved a three-point boost (from 21 to 24), Hispanic/Latino students have garnered a one-point increase (from 25 to 26), and students with disabilities have shown a two-point growth (from 9 to 11) when compared to the 2020-21 academic year.

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