Tech joins fellowship to improve training for ELA, math teachers

Sep 24, 2018 | Education and Human Sciences

The Louisiana Department of Education today announced it selected a cohort of teacher preparation providers to spend the next year collaborating on data-driven ways to ready aspiring public school teachers, particularly those focused on English language arts (ELA) and math, for the classroom. The Louisiana Believe and Prepare Impact Collaborative, which includes leaders from the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Louisiana at Monroe and University of New Orleans, will hold its inaugural gathering September 19-20.

“Teacher preparation providers play a significant role in ensuring a strong educator workforce, and we applaud their commitment to using data, including our students’ assessment results, to identify improvements,” said State Superintendent John White. “We are confident the teacher preparation providers selected to participate in this collaborative effort will not only use research to improve the training of their own teacher candidates but to lay the groundwork for future enhancements to teacher preparation statewide. We look forward to following this group’s progress, particularly as it relates to strengthening instruction in our highest need areas.”

Over the course of the next year, Louisiana Believe and Prepare Impact Collaborative participants will attend in-person meetings, engage in independent learning experiences and receive ongoing coaching tailored to their program needs. Through these experiences, the group will:

  • Analyze data to identify gaps in learning and training. Provider teams will examine data related to their teachers-in-training and recent graduates to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses within their preparation programs.
  • Deepen understanding of preparation weaknesses. Provider teams will meet with stakeholders within their respective programs to discuss areas in need of improvement and figure out what contributed to those shortcomings.
  • Develop and test innovative solutions to address deficiencies. Provider teams will identify ways to address their most critical weaknesses and to track their progress.
  • Reflect on learning. Provider teams will build relationships with other participants, share their strategies and experiences, and learn with and from one another in pursuit of a shared goal of continuous improvement.

The collaborative, supported by federal Teacher Incentive Fund dollars, will be led by Deans for Impact, a national organization committed to improving student-learning outcomes by stewarding the transformation of educator preparation.

“The creation of the Louisiana Believe and Prepare Impact Collaborative is a first-of-its-kind effort that may soon serve as a national model for transforming teacher preparation,” said Deans for Impact Executive Director Benjamin Riley. “Deans for Impact believes that we should have high expectations for programs that prepare future teachers and that these higher expectations must be coupled with policies and supports that will help programs improve. This collaborative effort is designed to do just that, and we look forward to working together to help ensure that every student in Louisiana is taught by a well-prepared teacher.”

The formation of the collaborative complements Louisiana’s ongoing efforts to ensure aspiring educators have access to high-quality, hands-on learning and training opportunities. As of July 2018, for example, all teaching candidates enrolled in a preparation program are now required to participate in a yearlong classroom residency under the tutelage of a mentor teacher.

“The work of the collaborative is a perfect marriage of the goals of Deans for Impact and Believe and Prepare to empower education preparation programs to transform their programs through the intentional collection, sharing and analysis of empirical evidence,” said Don Schillinger, Dean of the College of Education at Louisiana Tech University and member of Deans for Impact. “The power of the collaborative is that it provides a venue for teacher preparation leaders from all levels to engage in a rigorous cycle of inquiry while being guided and supported by highly skilled experts in this type of specialized endeavor.”

The collaborative also supports the state’s work to boost ELA and math instruction, and in turn, student performance. Though Louisiana students have made progress in these core subject areas over time, only 44 percent and 33 percent of students in grades 3 through 12 achieved mastery in ELA and math, respectively, on the latest state assessments. The results prompted the state to strengthen essential math skills, especially in the middle and later grades, and build a foundation of early literacy by encouraging school systems to adopt top-rated curricula and by providing comprehensive professional development, like the Content Leader training, to educators on how to implement that curricula in their classrooms.