LSU System Education Programs Continue to Produce Effective Teachers
LSU and its system campuses continue to help lay the foundation for Louisiana’s future through preparing its next generation of teachers, as evidenced by the Louisiana Board of Regents’ 2011-12 Annual Report for Teacher Preparation, which unveils findings on the performance of new and redesigned teacher preparation programs delivered by public universities, private universities and private providers in Louisiana.
The report shows that 50 percent or more of new teachers trained in state-approved teacher preparation programs made gains in student achievement with value-added scores in the effective: proficient or highly effective ranges in at least one content area. This includes both LSU and LSU-Shreveport.
The new teachers are compared to all public school teachers who provide instruction in the same content area of tested grade levels. The Louisiana Department of Education assigns all teachers who provide instruction in tested grade levels in public schools, value–added scores that are based upon predicted student growth. These scores fall in one of four ranges – ineffective, effective: emerging, effective: proficient and highly effective.
“The LSU School of Education in the College of Human Sciences and Education is pleased that our Language Arts and Social Studies Value-Added results in the alternate teacher education preparation programs indicate that our graduates are performing exceptionally well,” said Laura Lindsay, dean of the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education. “Ninety-two and 96 percent, respectively, rank in the effective emerging or higher categories, with more than 50 percent rated as effective proficient or highly effective.”
Teachers educated at LSU scored in the effective: proficient or highly effective ranges in all five teaching categories: language arts, math, reading, science and social studies. At least 40 percent of teachers from LSU-Shreveport grade scored effective: proficient or highly effective in language arts, reading, science and social studies.
In April 2013, education programs at LSU were fully accredited by National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE, with no areas for improvement cited, pending approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE. Programs preparing P-12 education professionals have been continuously accredited by NCATE since its inception in 1954. LSU-Shreveport’s School of Education was also accredited without qualifiers in 2011.
“It’s something that is virtually unheard of,” said Lindsay. “And it speaks to the hard work everybody here is engaged in keeping us on the forefront of preparing our students.”
Additionally, in the last year, LSU:
- Placed 1,042 teachers in 463 schools located in all 64 Louisiana parishes;
- Had 1,000 teacher education candidates participate in 180 hours of field experiences;
- Had 303 student teachers placed in 48 schools within 18 school districts teaching 25,910 students; and
- Helped 463 schools participate in the writing projects impacting 759 teachers and 110,543 P-12 students.
The LSU-Shreveport Department of Education partners with several school districts in Northwest Louisiana to provide candidates with meaningful, real-world experiences throughout their teacher preparation programs.
“Our faculty work hard to create partnerships with schools and community organizations to provide opportunities for more field experiences,” said Ruth Ray Jackson, associate professor and chair of the LSU-Shreveport School of Education. “These experiences directly impact the students with whom our candidates work and cultivate a spirit of service to others by working in these settings.”
Partnerships have been established with Bossier Elementary School and Donnie Bickham Middle School to offer literacy camps, Family Math Night and other opportunities to support the schools’ student success. Other partnerships include Shriner’s Hospital for Children, The Lighthouse Program at The Highland Center, Providence House for homeless mothers and children, Willis Knighton Hospital, LSU Health Sciences Center and The Center for Families.
LSU-Shreveport places an average of 35 student teachers each semester in four school districts. An average of 55 alternate certification candidates complete internships in 5 districts and are mentored by LSU-Shreveport faculty both through weekly seminar classes and on-site mentoring by a college supervisor, the director of field experiences and the instructor of the seminar class.
“LSU-Shreveport does a wonderful job of preparing new teachers,” said Mitch Downey, principal of Benton High School in Bossier Parish. “They are well prepared and ready to enter the classroom; they do an effective job of teaching. They have extensive knowledge of their content area and are able to relate to the students in an effective manner.”
LSU-Alexandria teacher education completers remain in the area and serve the P-12 students in central Louisiana. Ninety percent of LSU-Alexandria completers are currently teaching in central Louisiana. One-hundred percent of all student teachers complete an average of 450-500 hours in the classroom, with a minimum of 180 hours of teaching including two separate weeks of full-time teaching.
Additionally, the LSU-Alexandria teacher education unit was awarded an Avatar grant, designed to allow pre-service and in-service teachers to practice and refine their skills and techniques in working with students with special needs in a risk-free environment. The unit partnered with the University of Central Florida to have access to a virtual classroom that was manned by human actors who operated avatars in a classroom setting. The participants on the LSUA campus taught lessons, while the student avatars reacted to the teacher’s actions, strategies and overall lesson. This virtual experience provided the teachers with immediate feedback and allowed the teachers to “try again”; something that cannot be done in a real classroom setting. More than 200 teacher candidates and/or local educators participated in the Avatar Project.
“Our undergraduate teacher preparation programs are all ranked effective emerging or higher, with math, science and social studies teachers rated as effective proficient,” Lindsay said. “All of these teachers have been assessed on whether they have the content knowledge and pedagogical skills to teach the state/national content standards in grades PK-12. It is important to point out that these LSU graduates are being assessed in their first year or second year as the teacher of record. The information from the Value-Added Teacher Preparation Program will help our students be even better. To that end, we have organized a team to further study the implications of the results so that we can identify our strengths and address any weaknesses in our teacher education programs.”
“We are extremely pleased with the results presented in this report. Many of our new teachers have students who are demonstrating gains in achievement in specific content areas,” said Jeanne Burns, Louisiana Board of Regents’ Associate Commissioner for Teacher and Leadership Initiatives. “Our data indicate that these teachers are already demonstrating effectiveness, and we expect even greater levels of effectiveness as they gain experience.”
A key factor in realizing the success of Louisiana’s teacher preparation programs is the coordination with K-12. The connection between preparing our future teachers and the reforms enacted in our public schools is critical. BESE and The Louisiana Department of Education have been actively engaged in creating more rigorous policies to improve teacher preparation programs and were participants in the redesign process with the goal of producing well-prepared teachers and well-educated students.
“These results show that Louisiana is moving in the right direction in its efforts to improve teacher preparation, working to not only provide educators with the tools they need to achieve real results for students during their training, but also making sure this improvement and development continues after they enter the classroom,” said State Superintendent John White.
To access a complete copy of the report, please use the link below:
“This is evidence that the reforms within our teacher preparation programs are working,” said Commissioner Jim Purcell. “Many believe that students will learn less if taught by new teachers and this simply is untrue. This report is indicates that our universities are producing better prepared teachers who will impact gains in student achievement.”