Letter: Compass pointing the way

Teachers and school leaders across Louisiana have much to be proud of today. With the release of the final report on Louisiana’s first year of implementing statewide educator evaluations, or Compass, it is clear that educators have put forth a tremendous effort. This is an important milestone on the path to creating structures to honor the complexity of teaching and advance the teaching profession to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.

Compass combines information from classroom observations with student growth measures and creates multiple opportunities for teachers and leaders to work together to improve teaching practices. Teachers and leaders can examine practice along a continuum and make decisions using this new system that serves as a tool that facilitates and supports important discussions. Understanding where practice falls along a continuum is much more informative than the previous system that rated almost all practices as satisfactory.

An educator’s work is some of the most important of any profession. Teachers have the power to support a child in learning and lay the foundation for a successful life. Yet, as in any profession, if you aren’t receiving the support you need to do your job well, this opportunity to positively affect another life can seem daunting. The purpose and goal of Compass is to make sure that every teacher in every classroom across the state has the information and feedback they need to set goals and to reach them, to work collaboratively and to transform a disconnected school environment into one of support and coherence.

No tool is perfect, and in this first year of implementing Compass, it is clear we still have much work to do to improve the experience for educators. However, today Louisiana should be proud. We are leading the way and showing other states that the real opportunity for redesigned educator evaluations is in developing teaching practice. Educators across the state are working together to create resources, make the best decisions for their employees, and ultimately, make the best decisions for their students.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and Louisiana Department of Education are also working together to make sure the system is effective, helpful, and provides the resources necessary for educators to continue to improve. The department also is continuing to create and release resources, like the online Educator Support Toolbox and Instructional Video Library.

As a parent and an educator, I know how important this work is, and I know how difficult change can be. Nonetheless, as we ask our students to continue to try harder and improve, we must continue to do the same. This report reflects a successful first year. I know Louisiana teachers and leaders will continue to make us proud.

Holly Boffy, member

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education