Louisiana: Working in Education in Louisiana

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Innovations in Learning and Instruction

The Louisiana Department of Education has a High School Redesign Initiative to develop statewide standards for the redesign of high school programs in order to create rigorous academic and career pathways. The redesign is intended to enable the schools to:

  • Provide subject matter relevant for all students;
  • Gradually increase the rigor of high school; and
  • Establish stronger relationships between students, teachers, and administrators.

The initiative supports exploration of innovative high school models that increase career and college readiness through technology and project-based learning. Another project aims to develop a one-stop resource for middle school principals and staff to support the transition from middle to high school.

Technology education programs at the elementary and secondary levels help prepare students for their roles as adults. In addition, Louisiana high school students have access to online standards-based high school courses delivered by certified highly-qualified Louisiana teachers. The curriculum has expanded from 12 courses with 130 students in 2000-2001 to 60 courses with 6,030 students in 2008-2009. There are no fees to take the courses, but each participating school must provide an onsite facilitator and computer hardware and software.

Educational Management in Louisiana Schools

Recognizing that leadership is the most important factor (after teaching) that impacts student achievement, the Louisiana Educational Leaders Network is committed to preparing and supporting educational leaders. The network's induction program is designed to build the instructional, administrative, and professional skills and knowledge of new leaders in Louisiana education. The Principal's Academy offers professional development opportunities for education managers as part of its goal of providing every school with strong leadership that results in improved student achievement. In another effort to expand educational leadership, Louisiana participates in national programs authorized to certify nontraditional administrators.

The Louisiana Turnaround Specialist Program trains principals in the state's worst performing schools. The principals learn how to run the failing schools like businesses. They learn how to use data, work in teams, and foster communication between administrators, teachers, parents, and the community. In Louisiana, the state takes over the worst schools and puts them into its Recovery School District, or RSD. The RSD is a special school district administered by the Louisiana Department of Education with the goal of transforming underperforming schools into successful places of learning. The Recovery School District takes progressive measures to improve academic opportunities for students. Most of the schools are in New Orleans; many of the schools are charter schools.

Teacher's Aides

Louisiana higher education institutions are designing two-year associate's degree programs to train paraprofessionals to work in schools. Louisiana provides tuition exemption and stipends to assist teacher's aides and other paraprofessionals who work in state-approved elementary and secondary schools to meet the qualifications for certification as a teacher.

Participants in the tuition exemption and stipend program must agree to practice as paraprofessionals in public elementary or secondary schools in Louisiana for at least two years after becoming certified.

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