Teachers get materials to help meet new academic expectations - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Teachers get materials to help meet new academic expectations

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Source: AP Source: AP

BATON ROUGE, La. - As part of its plan to provide increased, intensive support to districts, schools, and educators during a two-year transition period to learn new academic expectations, the Louisiana Department of Education announced today that it would provide administrators and teachers access to low-cost or free published curriculum, curriculum guidebooks, in-depth reviews of many published curricula, and professional development specific to certain curricula.

In 2010, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) adopted higher standards for English Language Arts and math.  These standards are being fully implemented during the 2013-2014 school year and will be fully measured on new assessments in the 2014-2015 school year.  School letter grades and other accountability measures have been modified to allow for two additional transition years during this period.

In Louisiana, local school systems and schools determine which curricula to use in classrooms.  The Department provides curricula and related resources and trainings as options from which districts may choose.  In 2013, the Department encouraged the use of the LSU-developed Eureka Math curriculum and provided hundreds of training seats for educators across the state.  In addition, the Department provided educators statewide with the Classroom Support Toolbox which included sample year-long curriculum plans, instructional videos, guidance on setting goals for student achievement, and assessment guides to clarify how state tests align to the new expectations.  Today's announcement expands on this by providing more resources including approved curricula recommendations, curriculum guidebooks to help teachers with how to best use text and assessments together, publisher textbooks and text sets, and significant amounts of professional development.

"By increasing and intensifying our support during this transition, we want to make sure our teachers have the guidance they need to learn the new expectations and best instruct students to achieve those expectations," said State Superintendent of Education John White.  "We want our educators to know that the resources provided to them are aligned and meet the needs of their students and communities."

The package announced today includes:

Published Curriculum Recommendations: The Department and Louisiana educators reviewed curricula submitted by publishers to make choosing curricula easier and faster for educators, identifying curricula as Tier 1, 2, or 3 depending on their level of alignment with new academic expectations.  Louisiana educators trained on the Common Core State Standards reviewed and vetted all submitted materials.  The results of that vetting are summarized and made available for public review as curricular resources through the Classroom Support Toolbox on the Department's website.  As materials continue to be submitted the Department will continue vetting curricular programs and highlighting those that are Tier 1.  The Eureka Math curriculum, a Tier 1 curriculum for grades K-12, is aligned to new expectations and written by leading educators and math experts at the Cain Center for STEM Literacy at Louisiana State University.  Eureka Math is available online for free or can be purchased in printed versions.  For English, the Core Knowledge Skills Strand for grades K-2 and 3 is fully aligned to new academic expectations for literacy foundations.  Core Knowledge is available in a free download or can be printed at low-cost.  Additionally, the Department has found a series of Tier 2 English Language Arts programs, some for free download, and others for purchase that are more traditional curriculum programs.  All Tier 2 programs can be reviewed here.  As more programs meet the Tier 2 rating, the Department will continue to post them throughout the spring.
 

  • Unit Plans and Guidebooks: The Department is increasing support to educators, providing Instructional Guidebooks for every grade K-12.  In English, these guidebooks include a full year of unit plans for each grade level with more units than necessary to give districts choice in which texts to use, many of which are already included in most school anthologies.  Teachers can also receive guidance in accessing texts on the internet by clicking here.  In the English Guidebook, each unit plan will include a full set of novels and other readings, multiple end of unit assessments (each includes sample that mirror state end of year assessments), and a sequence of daily lessons for over 50 percent of the lessons.  The Math Guidebook includes rigorous instructional tasks to supplement any curricula. Many of these tasks mirror the types of items students will see on their end of year state assessments and thus can be used at any time during the year to help students practice meeting the expectations of the new standards.
     
  • Professional Development: To support educators and the use of these resources, the Department will provide significant in-person and virtual training.  The Department will train over 4,000 educators from every district in the state who will be prepared to redeliver the content to educators in their home districts.  The training will consist of over fifteen days of in person training, providing hundreds of training seats each day.  Additionally, the virtual training provided will occur multiple times every month of the entire school year, preparing teachers weekly to implement high quality curricula.  A full Professional Development calendar will be released later this spring.

"I have been a mathematics educator in Louisiana for 40 years - and it makes me tremendously proud to see Louisiana taking a leadership role in promoting such a carefully crafted, intensely vetted curriculum and demonstrating its willingness to support that curriculum by providing quality professional development for teachers," said Nell McAnelly, Co-Director of the LSU Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy.  "The Department's support of Eureka Math represents an exciting opportunity for the children in our state to master rigorous content and achieve academic success."

The Department is also guiding districts and families through such measures as:

Increasing the availability of technological resources for schools and students.
 

  • Highlighting a sample Question of the Day for the 2014-2015 assessments to help educators and families preview the tests.
     
  • Providing sample tests replicating the technology students will use to take the assessment, affording educators and families the opportunity to experience the test in the same way students will in 2015.

"The resources being released will provide teachers in my school district the information needed to fully prepare students for the standards and assessments," said Patricia Thibodeaux, Assistant Principal at LeBlanc Elementary School in Vermilion Parish.  "It was truly an honor to work with a group of dedicated individuals in this meritorious process. Louisiana will lead the change and students are sure to thrive."

"I am looking forward to using the released math instructional tasks because it will increase rigor in the classroom as they demonstrate conceptual understanding of different skills," said Em LeBlanc, 3rd grade teacher at The Dufrocq School in East Baton Rouge Parish.  "I plan to use them as a guide for my instruction and incorporate as many as I can into my lessons and units to ensure student achievement."

"Teachers in Lafayette Parish using the Eureka Math curriculum have reported their students are becoming critical thinkers and more efficient problem solvers through a better conceptual understanding.  In the past, a large number of topics were taught quickly by teaching procedures and rote memory techniques because of time restraints.  With the Eureka Math curriculum these same major topics are challenging teachers to teach conceptually,  helping students to build a toolbox of strategies that they add to as they grow as mathematicians," said Penny Gennuso, Math/Science Academic Specialist for Lafayette Parish schools.

"I am looking forward to getting the master list of K-12 ELA texts included in the ELA unit plans.  I know many Louisiana schools will have a lot of these texts already on their campuses, and it will be both comforting and validating to see how we can use what we may already have to better align our instruction with the Common Core State Standards," said Christina Johnson, English Language Arts School Support Specialist in Jefferson Parish.

 

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