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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Champions in Mechanical Engineering: UL Lafayette Students Excel at National Fluid Power Vehicle Final Challenge

In the realm of mechanical engineering, innovation, and competition go hand in hand. A shining example of this can be found in the remarkable achievements of a group of students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. These students, namely Austin Sun Chee Fore, Brett Hildreth, Chase Jeansonne, and Michael Tonore, have etched their names in the annals of excellence by earning the grand championship at the prestigious 2023 Fluid Power Vehicle Final Challenge, according to this news release from ULL. Hosted by Danfoss Power Solutions in Ames, Iowa, this competition brought together brilliant minds from various universities to showcase their prowess in the field.

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly is fluid power? Well, it involves the transmission of power through the use of either liquid, known as hydraulics, or compressed air, known as pneumatics. The Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, in which these talented students participated, provides a platform for students to delve deep into research, design, and the construction of vehicles that incorporate both hydraulics and pneumatics, along with components inspired by bicycles. These innovative vehicles are meticulously crafted to combine performance efficiency, speed, and power, leading to remarkable technological advancements.

The UL Lafayette team’s extraordinary performance did not stop at the grand championship. They triumphed in several other competition categories as well, showcasing their comprehensive expertise. They secured the first position in both the endurance and sprint races, displaying their unwavering determination and unmatched speed. Furthermore, their midway and final presentations earned them well-deserved accolades, emphasizing their exceptional communication and presentation skills. In the highly competitive regenerative braking category, they achieved a commendable third place, highlighting their commitment to sustainable engineering solutions.

The Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge culminates in two final events held in different locations, where the participants showcase their vehicles and their skills in vehicle construction and testing. These events encompass thrilling races and captivating presentations, all of which are meticulously evaluated by industry professionals who serve as judges. It is worth mentioning that the national competition, held in Littleton, Colorado, was won by Texas A&M University, showcasing the intense competition among the participating institutions. The National Fluid Power Association, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, takes the reins in coordinating these events, as their primary focus lies in promoting and advancing fluid power technology.

Behind the scenes, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Department of Mechanical Engineering boasts exceptional faculty advisors who have guided and nurtured the fluid power team throughout their journey. Yasmeen Qudsi, a senior instructor, and John Carroll, an instructor, have played instrumental roles in mentoring and advising the team, channeling their expertise and knowledge to bring out the best in the students. Their dedication and commitment to the team have undoubtedly contributed to their resounding success.

The achievements of the UL Lafayette mechanical engineering students at the Fluid Power Vehicle Final Challengeserve as a testament to the university’s commitment to fostering excellence in education and preparing students for real-world challenges. It showcases the intersection of theoretical knowledge and practical application, highlighting the importance of hands-on experiences in engineering education. The fluid power challenge provides students with an opportunity to apply their classroom learning to real-life scenarios, allowing them to develop problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and effective teamwork, which are crucial for success in the engineering industry.

Aspiring engineers can draw inspiration from the remarkable achievements of these students and their advisors. The Department of Mechanical Engineering at UL Lafayette stands as a testament to the institution’s commitment to providing a comprehensive and rigorous education in mechanical engineering. By equipping students with the necessary tools, knowledge, and opportunities, the department nurtures their talents and enables them to excel in their chosen fields.

In conclusion, the recent triumph of the UL Lafayette mechanical engineering students at the 2023 Fluid Power Vehicle Final Challenge is a testament to their exceptional skills, relentless dedication, and the invaluable support of their faculty advisors. This achievement not only brings pride to the University but also highlights the significance of experiential learning and hands-on opportunities in engineering education. The Department of Mechanical Engineering at UL Lafayette continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the engineers of tomorrow, empowering them to make a lasting impact in the world of engineering and beyond.

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Louisiana’s Education Programs Increase in National Ranking

Louisiana’s education system has been making positive strides, as indicated by the latest state rankings from the U.S. News & World Report. This widely-cited report includes education as one of the components of its annual Best States rankings, which evaluates all 50 states. In the 2023 rankings, Louisiana has moved up five places for Pre-K-12 education, now ranking 41st, according to this news release from the Louisiana Department of Education.

Dr. Cade Brumley, the State Superintendent of Education, attributed this improvement to the unwavering commitment of educators and policymakers to enhance the quality of education in Louisiana. “In a state long-challenged with educational outcomes, this movement is welcome news; however, we have a long way to go and must keep pushing forward.”

This uptick in performance aligns with positive data released earlier this school year on “The Nation’s Report Card,” also known as the NAEP. In that report, Louisiana’s fourth graders ranked first in the country in reading growth. According to the U.S. News & World Report, from 2019 to 2023, Louisiana has made an overall improvement in its Pre-K-12 ranking by five spots, moving from 46th to 41st. Categorically, Louisiana has seen the following improvements among all of the states:

College readiness has improved by two places, from 42nd to 40th; High school graduation has improved by eight places, from 45th to 37th; Math scores have improved by six places, from 50th to 44th; Reading scores have improved by 10 places, from 48th to 38th; and Preschool enrollment has improved by six places, from 15th to 9th.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jenna Chiasson commented on the results by saying. “I commend the teachers of Louisiana who have shown such dedication to our students. They remained focused on academic excellence and these gains are the direct result of that relentless pursuit.”

These developments are a testament to the efforts of Louisiana’s educators and policymakers to improve the quality of education in the state. The progress is especially noteworthy considering the many challenges Louisiana’s educational system has faced in recent years. However, there is still work to be done to ensure that Louisiana’s students have access to high-quality education that prepares them for success in college and their future careers.

Through their Pre-K-12 rankings, the U.S. News & World Report evaluates a range of factors related to education in each state. These factors include college readiness, high school graduation rates, math and reading scores, and preschool enrollment. The rankings are based on a variety of sources, including the National Center for Education Statistics, the College Board, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In addition to these factors, the U.S. News & World Report also considers a state’s educational policies and funding.

The rankings take into account a state’s commitment to early childhood education, the availability of resources and support for teachers, and the state’s investment in education as a whole. By evaluating all of these factors, the U.S. News & World Report provides a comprehensive picture of how each state is performing in the area of Pre-K-12 education.

Other factors that have contributed to Louisiana’s improvement include: the state’s overall school performance score racing pre-pandemic levels; Louisiana students in grades 1-3 growing on the Fall Reading Report for a second consecutive year; Louisiana’s students earned the most significant year-over-year increase on state assessments since 2016, Louisiana’s students earned the most significant year-over-year increase on state assessments since 2016; and Louisiana’s 4th graders led the country in reading growth and the state’s overall ranking moved from 46th to 42nd among the states from 2019 to 2022 on NAEP.

In conclusion, the U.S. News & World Report rankings have played an essential role in evaluating the educational system’s progress in Louisiana and across the nation. The latest rankings indicate that Louisiana is moving in the right direction, and with continued efforts, the state’s educational system can achieve even greater heights.

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Louisiana Farm to School Program Provides Knowledge and Resources

A Louisiana Farm To School program from the LSU AgCenter has been promoting school gardening practices, gardening education, and local food procurement to Louisiana students and educators, and it’s set to expand its operations. According to this article from The Advocate. Since 2017, the program, Seeds to Success, which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture through the Louisiana Department of Education, is set to provide expert training of agricultural literacy and knowledge to both students and teachers.

Today, 981 schools throughout Louisiana are participating in the Seeds to Success program, meaning that over a half a million students are being reached by the program and its benefits. In addition to this participation rate, nearly 70% of the participating schools are serving food that is locally or regionally sourced. Additionally, 52.9% of the schools are providing food, nutrition, or agricultural education to their students, and 36.5% of the schools have their own edible gardens on campus.

Crystal Besse is the Program Director of the farm to school program, Seeds to Success, and she describes one of the design aims of the program by saying, “Seeds to Success is designed to increase access to fresh, local foods while strengthening local communities and their economy.” Carl Motsenbocker is the program’s executive director, and when describing how the program is operating at this time of year, he said, “it’s like I’m busier than I’ve ever been. It’s like … isn’t it time to slow down a little bit? But there’s just so much work to do, and that’s been a great thing for us.”

Motsenbocker began the Seeds to Success program after years of recognizing that there was a growing need in the state for more widespread, healthy eating practices. Motsenbocker had also worked on a similar program at Slow Food Baton Rouge; the program involved school gardens growing seasonal produce. Slow Food Baton Rouge eventually led to the founding of Seeds to Success. In describing the origins of the idea, Motsenbocker said, “I started back in the 1990s doing service projects and putting in gardens at schools, working with kids growing food. I realized we needed to start younger, that we’ve got to get the kids when they’re little to eat better fruits and vegetables. They’re supposed to be eating five servings a day, but the average American eats barely one.”

At Seeds to Success, they boast of a plethora of programs, although it is worth mentioning the two main ones that have captured their current attention. It is impossible to overlook the Louisiana Harvest of the Month program, which meticulously showcases a myriad of Louisiana crops that can be locally and seasonally grown. The program is renowned for its superb high-quality videos that have been produced by the local PBS affiliate LPB. The videos cover a wide range of topics, from crawfish to rice, and ingeniously demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between the two crops. The program also offers a rich assortment of resources on how to grow and cook these crops to perfection. Another notable program that has taken center stage is Seeding LA, which was launched in 2021. During its inception, Seeding LA generously distributed more than 1,600 seed packets to various Louisiana schools, and in addition, over 1,000 seed starter kits were also distributed to deserving teachers.

At Seeds to Success, their farm to school endeavors are not solely concentrated on students. A significant portion of the program is geared towards farmers, with the aim of assisting them in expanding their reach and selling their products to a broader range of institutions, such as schools and hospitals. Through this program, not only does it promote healthy eating habits, but it also creates a substantial economic stimulus, making it a win-win for everyone involved. By providing the necessary resources and support, Seeds to Success helps farmers maximize their potential and develop sustainable business models, which in turn helps boost the local economy while providing nutritious food options to communities.

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Lab School to Be a Center of Learning, Teaching, and Education at UL Lafayette Campus

It was recently announced via this informative article from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, that the school has found a home for the ULL Learning Lab. The Learning Lab will be a laboratory school that will be housed in a two-story, 70,000-square foot building in UL Lafayette’s Research Park.

The building that will host the ULL Learning Lab was originally occupied by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is a federal agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but it was recently announced that the building would be transferred to the University by U.S. Senator John Kennedy.

The Interim Dean of the ULL College of Education and Human Development, Dr. Paula Montgomery, spoke about the Learning Lab saying, “beyond a cutting-edge learning and teaching environment, the Learning Lab will be a hub for teaching practice and theory, education-based research and interdisciplinary collaboration. Acquiring a home for the lab school moves us that much closer to opening its doors.” Dr. Montgomery mentioned that the Learning Lab will offer students an expansive education that will feature the following: model teaching methods as well as an innovative curriculum that will encompass both interactive and outdoor learning experiences.

While there is not a set date on when the Learning Lab will be opened, ULL professor and the college’s former dean, Dr. Nathan Roberts explained that “renovations to convert the building into a space for innovative learning, teaching, and research is one of the priorities.”

Dr. Roberts was instrumental in the implementation of the lab school. He explained that initial proposals for the Labwould call for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students to enroll at the school with the eventual expansion through Eighth grade during the first several years. Eventually, this would lead to a high school, as the framework is based on “substantial interest from parents of potential students, school administrators, public officials, and community organizations. So, we’re excited to have the capacity to serve a wide range of people and foster partnerships.”

Essentially, the Learning Lab will be operating as an independent school district in the same manner as LSU andSouthern University’s lab schools. Additionally, it will be funded with a blend of tuition and state support. Furthermore, donor support will also be an essential aspect of the creation of the Learning Lab and its activities. UL Lafayette plans to fund the Lab School as a part of the largest comprehensive funding initiative in the history of the University. UL Lafayette plans to raise $500 in its campaign, which is titled “Together: The Campaign for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

One of the aims of the Learning Lab will involve it being a place for the majority, if not all, of ULL students studying and training to become teachers to be able to gain valuable classroom experience by observing and participating in the lab school in addition to their field experiences in local area school districts. Dr. Aimee Barber is an assistant professor in ULL’s Department of Educational Curriculum and Instruction, and she also co-chairs a faculty and staff committee that oversees the establishment of the school.

Dr. Barber explained, “the intent will be to immerse our teacher candidates in a space that enables them to not only learn about global best practice, but actually implement best practice as part of their teacher preparation. So, in their junior year, they will be immersed in laboratory school classrooms in preparation for their final year, which is a year-long residency in area public schools.”

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