Teachers are leading the way for change in the state's K-12 education system, according to "Leading Change in Louisiana: How Louisiana is Empowering Teachers to Implement an Aligned Academic Vision" a new report released Monday by Chiefs for Change. A bipartisan network of state and district education leaders, Chiefs for Change reports that the Louisiana Department of Education's balance of high-quality curriculum and meaningful professional development have contributed to "measurable gains in student performance."

John White, Louisiana state superintendent of education

John White, Louisiana state superintendent of education

With state Superintendent John White, who is a member of Chiefs for Change's board of directors, stepping down this month, the organization claims that Louisiana Believes' last eight years of success can be largely attributed to teachers with forward thinking and open mind.

"The most promising thing that has happened here is that teachers are embracing change, teachers are owning change and teachers are the ones who are pulling the change," White said in a news release.

The push for increased student performance is the direct result of federal expectations outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act. According to the report, by 2025 the state's education system will ensure students are ready for the next level of study, have access to the same educational opportunities as their peers across the country, schools will have comprehensive support for struggling populations and families will have an accurate picture of school, center and system performance and equity.

Such ambitious goals have required intensive work and Jessica Baghian, LDOE assistant state superintendent and a member of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs leadership development program, said that a teacher-led, multi-strand strategy can be thanked for progress in each of the domains.

"These successes are a direct result of a coherent academic strategy, led by Louisiana educators, that is centered on increasing access to quality early childhood education; academic alignment of standards, curricula, assessments, and professional development in every classroom; quality preparation and advancement opportunities for teachers and leaders; and clear pathways to college and career for every graduate."

In addition to outlining the state's academic successes under Louisiana Believes, including record high graduation rates, record high college enrollment rates and leading the nation in improvement on national assessments in math and reading, the report provides teacher-centered advice to other states that, like Louisiana, have historically appeared at the bottom of education success rankings. Chiefs for Change recommends a systematic practice of teacher engagement, investment and the establishment of a meaningful leadership pipeline can help raise the bar for educational attainment:

States should involve teachers in the process of creating and executing a coherent academic vision of aligned standards, curriculum and assessments to communicate a high bar for what is expected from schools and students and what constitutes high-quality instruction.

Teacher effectiveness depends on states' and districts' willingness to create the structures that give teacher leaders opportunities to support their peers. These include, for example, school schedules that prioritize planning and collaboration time and the presence of on-site experts like content leaders and mentor teachers.

States should not overlook the desire teachers have to develop and advance throughout their careers. Strong leadership pipelines allow teachers to learn and grow while remaining in the classroom and are a sound investment in school systems' educator workforce, the report found.

To read "Leading Change in Louisiana: How Louisiana is Empowering Teachers to Implement an Aligned Academic Vision," visit chiefsforchange.org/policy-papers/.

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