GONZALES — State Superintendent of Education John White spent more than two hours at Dutchtown High School on Thursday, his fifth stop in a statewide tour presenting his plan for implementing an education reform law passed earlier this month and answering questions from area teachers, and representatives of teacher unions.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed three bills into law April 18 aimed at improving student performance.
White scheduled 22 events in 16 cities across the state, including 11 town hall-style meetings like Thursday’s, according to a news release issued by the state Department of Education. He also will be meeting with small groups of local superintendents around the state.
“This is what I would call right now a draft plan ... that represents a lot of different ideas, from a lot of different sources. Some of those ideas are universally accepted, and some are controversial. Everything in this plan is intended to be about student achievement,” White told teachers.
White said the plan includes five “pillars:” Teachers will set goals for their students, will use common assessments to evaluate lessons, and will collaborate with trained teacher leaders at each school to review student work, White said. Principals will give teachers feedback on their efforts based on observations of the process.
“We know if we see these things happening in our schools, we’re going to have a good outcome in our schools,” White said. “We’re going to support you in achieving this, but we’re not going to have a state plan telling you exactly how to do this. This is something in the end that people closest to the kids need to make happen.”
The state education department’s support will consist of teams of veteran educators “who will support districts in implementing the plan that is right for your district,” White said.
The majority of teachers’ questions centered on the nuts and bolts of how the plan will work.
White told the teachers that students who meet the criteria and apply for the state’s voucher program will be able to attend a participating private school, but will not necessarily be able to choose that school outright. Parents would apply to the state, and eligible students will be assigned to a new school through the program, he said.
All students, regardless of where they attend school, must take state accountability tests, White said.
More information on the plan is available online at http://www.doe.state.la.us by clicking on the “Louisiana Believes” icon.
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