Today, Governor Bobby Jindal encouraged local school districts to join the "Race to the Top" competition and he announced new education policy initiatives while at a "Louisiana Working Tour" stop in New Orleans. As part of the "Louisiana Working Tour," Governor Jindal is visiting all parishes to stress the importance of economic development and job creation.
Race To The Top Competition & New Education Policy Initiatives
Governor Jindal called Race to the Top a unique opportunity for the state and local school districts to build on the momentum already created by the reforms implemented since he took office. A total of 53 school districts have already indicated their intent to be part of the state's Race to the Top application. The Governor encouraged local school districts to consider the opportunities to strengthen the state's education system through the Race to the Top program.
Governor Jindal said that the "Race to the Top" program focuses on four main points:
1. Improving student achievement, particularly through teacher and school leader effectiveness
2. Turning around chronically low-performing schools
3. Developing a robust data system to better inform school leaders on a more real-time basis about support needed for students
4. Adopting standards that will ensure that our students graduate prepared for postsecondary education and careers.
In today's announcement, Governor Jindal focused on the first point -- improving student achievement, particularly through teacher and school leader effectiveness.
The Governor noted that Louisiana's schools and districts have made progress during the past several years in raising student achievement and closing the achievement gap. In fact, during this past year, Louisiana's schools have made the largest performance gain in the past decade. Nearly 80 percent of schools showed gains in their School Performance Scores, almost half met their growth targets compared to only 25 percent last year, and the number of academically unacceptable schools fell from 90 last year to 55 this year.
However, the Governor said that while students are graduating at increasing rates each year, still, far too many students are being left behind. He cited a number of statistics, including that nearly one out of every three public school students is performing below grade-level, which means approximately 215,000 students.
In 400 schools throughout the state, nearly half of each school's student body is below grade level -- and each year, he said that about 16,000 students are dropping out of school, which is keeping Louisiana's graduation rates among the lowest in the country.
Governor Jindal said, "These numbers are unacceptable and tell us that we must do more to improve the quality of education for thousands of low-achieving students."
He noted that his administration has taken a number of steps to improve the state's education system, including increasing overall funding for public education. The Governor also said he has worked to implement new strategies including a strong literacy program, high-quality career and technical education, effective dropout prevention programs, increased accountability in school spending, and funds to assist with teacher recruitment, development, and retention.
Governor Jindal said, "Race to the Top offers us a unique opportunity for our state to build on the progress we've already made by partnering with willing districts, schools, and other stakeholders in a new way to dramatically improve the educational performance of all schools -- from those in need of major improvement to those on the verge of excellence."
"I join Superintendent Pastorek and members of BESE in inviting all of our local school districts to strongly consider the opportunities to strengthen teaching and learning through this program."
He also noted that should the state's Race to the Top application be successful, the program is an option, not a mandate for local school districts.
Already, 53 districts have provided a letter of intent to be part of the state's Race to the Top application, including:
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Education Policy Initiatives
Governor Jindal proposed new education policy initiatives focusing on value-added assessments as well as creating a new system to communicate school performance. The Governor said that while these new reforms will strengthen the state's position in the competition for Race to the Top, he wants to proactively put these reforms into place because they will strengthen teaching and improve student achievement.
Race to the Top requires states to use the funds to develop a comprehensive reform agenda around improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance, ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals, and providing effective support to teachers and principals.
The Governor noted that Louisiana was the first state to use a value-added or growth model to assess the effectiveness of new teachers completing redesigned teacher preparation programs at the state's universities and non-university alternative certification programs. Value-added assessment works by establishing expectations, assessing actual performance, comparing results and looking for patterns, and finally, acting on results.
Governor Jindal said that Louisiana is considered a national leader in linking student achievement to teacher effectiveness using value-added assessment. In fact, he noted that within the last week, The Washington Post highlighted Louisiana's work as the most "aggressive example" of using student achievement to help evaluate teachers and the institutions that train them. The article quoted U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who acknowledged that many education schools do a "mediocre job" in preparing teachers, but Louisiana has demonstrated that it has the courage to say that great teaching matters.
The Governor said that through Race to the Top, Louisiana will be able to develop a Teacher Preparation Accountability System using rigorous standards to measure and improve the effectiveness of teacher and principal preparation programs.
The Governor said that the state is also reviewing how to improve the value-added assessment system for practicing teachers. Governor Jindal worked with the Legislature to provide $580,000 in Fiscal Year 2010 for the Louisiana Department of Education to develop a value-added assessment system for practicing teachers -- taking what has been learned about value-added assessment in teacher preparation programs, and using it to assess the impact of current, practicing teachers on student achievement, as well as the impacts of the school and districts in which they teach.
He noted that Race to the Top calls on participating states and districts to incorporate academic achievement of students using a growth or value-added model in the evaluation procedures for teachers and school leaders.
Governor Jindal said he will pursue legislation in the upcoming session that will incorporate these reforms on a statewide basis. The Governor said the legislation will accomplish two specific goals.
First, Governor Jindal said that teacher evaluations in all public schools and grades for which the state has value-added data should be based, in part, on student achievement, using the value-added assessment model.
The Governor noted that these evaluations will be used to identify strengths and weaknesses, reward highly effective teachers, and deliver targeted professional development to those who need it.
Second, Governor Jindal said school and district performance scores should be based, in part, on the growth of student achievement using value-added assessment data.
In the Spring of 2010, State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek and the Louisiana Department of Education will begin pilot testing the new value-added model in grades 4 through 9 in about 25 schools to assemble the data processes and develop the analytic model. This will be followed by a large-scale pilot program involving around a dozen districts in the Fall of 2010, which will allow for training tools to be developed for teachers and principals on understanding and using the data.
The model considers students' achievement history prior to the current year. For example, a student's performance on the 5th grade iLEAP will be compared to their performance on the 6th grade iLEAP.
The model also looks at critical factors that should be considered such as student disabilities. Based on that information and the data for all other assessed teachers and students in the state, the model then identifies the average achievement outcomes for a student with that history.
The model then examines the collection of students that teachers have and their achievement outcomes. Using this data, Governor Jindal said that officials will be able to determine if the students taught by a particular teacher achieved more or less than students with the same or similar backgrounds.
President of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents Gary Jones said, "There is wide-spread support for the concept of using value-added student performance data as part of the evaluation process. There is also wide understanding of current legislative impediments to the process of change. The Louisiana Association of School Superintendents embraces the needs for educational reform and supports an effort by the Governor to clarify these issues and to arrive at a fair and equitable evaluation process for teachers, administrators and school districts. We pledge to be a significant participant in the discussion and to offer our insights into the process."
St. Tammany Parish School System Superintendent Gayle Sloan said, "District superintendents have been asking for a value-added testing system for some time because it has the potential of offering the most fair and effective means of measuring growth in students, classrooms, schools, and districts. Our present accountability system may have taken us as far as it can. It's time for an approach that is fair to all and encourages even the top schools and districts to stretch even further."
West Baton Rouge Parish School System Superintendent David Corona said, "I commend the Governor, and would welcome a value added system where teachers can earn additional income based on the academic progress made by their students, as long as the state designs a model to fairly measure academic growth in each student in the entire system. The West Baton Rouge Parish School Board implemented a value added stipend in 2000 for teachers who work in schools who achieve their "growth target' in the present accountability system. That model remains in our system today."
Louisiana Association of Principals Executive Director Andrea Martin said, "The Louisiana Association of Principals does support the principles included in the Race to the Top proposal, such as continued school improvement based on academic content standards and providing better trained and highly qualified effective teachers and school leaders. There are many details that have to be discussed and developed before the final document is complete and LAP hopes to play an active role in those discussions by offering suggestions and providing a realistic view from the school level.
"Most school principals embrace accountability for the school's performance as long as they, as the school's leader, are responsible for the decisions that directly effect teaching and learning in their assigned schools. For over a year principals across the state have encouraged the Accountability Commission to examine the value-added proposition and to incorporate its use in computing the school's performance score. Using this approach will provide a more accurate picture of how the students at a school are performing."
Finally, Governor Jindal said he will work with BESE to create a clear method in which to communicate school performance and the state's accountability system to parents and communities.
Currently, schools receive a performance score based on a scale of 0 to 200, as well what's known as a "performance label" consisting of a certain number of stars, from five down to none for academically unacceptable schools. Schools are also given "growth labels" based on their progress in meeting annual targets that range from "exemplary academic growth" to "minimal academic growth" to "school in decline."
Governor Jindal said, "I'm sure all of these numbers and labels serve a good purpose, but for the average person, they don't clearly communicate how a school is performing. There has to be a better way to let the public know what all of this means."
In Florida for instance, school performance is communicated through letter grades such as A, B, C, D, and F. The Governor said he will work with BESE to develop a better communications system for school accountability that is simpler and clearer for all parents and citizens to understand, and put this program in place before the next school performance scores are released which is in the Fall of 2010.
Louisiana Working Tour
Governor Jindal highlighted the state's top priority of job creation and stressed the importance of continuing to further grow the state's economy.
Governor Jindal said, "We've established a strong economic environment that is creating opportunity for our people and this didn't happen by coincidence. Indeed, we've rejected the policies of Washington to borrow and spend our way into prosperity, and instead, we pursued policies that hold the line on taxes and make government live within its means. By pursuing this strategy, we've announced economic development wins totaling 34,500 jobs and about $4.6 billion in capital investment. That's incredible progress, but we cannot stop working yet. We'll continue to pursue these same policies so that our economy remains strong, and more importantly, so that all of our people can find good jobs and pursue their dreams right here at home in Louisiana."
Governor Jindal highlighted a number of reforms made since he entered office in order to create a winning economic environment, including ethics reforms, tax cuts and revamping the state's workforce development system.
Governor Jindal said that because of these reforms Louisiana moved from the bottom five to the top five on the Better Government Association's BGA-Alper Integrity Index rankings, and the Center for Public Integrity recently announced that Louisiana's legislative disclosure requirement went up from number 44 to number one in the nation.
The Governor also stressed the important work to eliminate burdensome business taxes during a second special session of the Legislature focused on eliminating or speeding up the elimination of taxes on debt, utilities, and new equipment.
Governor Jindal also noted that he worked with the Legislature to completely overhaul the state's workforce development system in order to connect thousands of job opportunities with skilled workers.
Economic Wins Create Jobs
Governor Jindal said that since he has entered office, Louisiana has won economic development projects creating more than 34,500 direct and indirect jobs and $4.6 billion in capital investment.
Governor Jindal said, "These new jobs and billions of dollars in business investment in our state are not a coincidence. This is the product of a strategy geared at positioning Louisiana to be one of the best places in the world for business investment, expansion, and job creation."
Governor Jindal used real life examples of how these economic development wins are helping Louisianians.
The Governor recognized Michelle Mueller who was born and raised in Metairie. Four years ago, Mueller was forced to evacuate from her home in New Orleans and go to Panama City, FL when Hurricane Katrina struck.
After the storm, Mueller's employer had to make cutbacks in New Orleans, but they offered her a position in Key West. Mueller moved to Key West, but she was uprooted once again when Hurricane Wilma hit Florida. At that point, Mueller was hoping that she would be transferred back to New Orleans, but her employer at the time asked her to move to Boca Raton, Florida.
Instead of staying in Florida, Mueller knew that she wanted to return home to New Orleans so she began a job search. Since she hoped that she would be able to move back home one day, Mueller still owned her house in New Orleans when she relocated to Florida. She flew into New Orleans as often as once a month to check on her house.
In her search, Mueller found a job listed online for the National World War II Museum. The National World War II Museum first opened on June 6, 2000.
Its latest expansion, called the Road to Victory, is a $300 million investment that will quadruple the size of the existing facility and has put the museum into hiring mode within the past few months. This expansion is the first project in Louisiana that has utilized the Live Entertainment Tax Credit Program for the Victory Theater and Stage Door Canteen. The museum also has utilized the Enterprise Zone program and the New Markets Tax Credit.
Ultimately, Mueller landed a job at the museum and she said that she admires the mission of the museum and enjoys the challenges of her new job. Most importantly though, Mueller said she is very happy to be back home in Louisiana.
In the Greater New Orleans Area, economic development wins will result in almost 900 new direct jobs in the region, over 1,400 new indirect jobs, 3,575 jobs protected, and $510 million in new capital investment.
* Horizon Entertainment = 76 Total New Jobs. Horizon Entertainment's relocation of an Atlanta-based film and TV studio results in 41 new direct jobs and 35 new indirect jobs in Orleans Parish.
* Ochsner and the University of Queensland = 21 Total New Jobs. The new University of Queensland School of Medicine Clinical School at Ochsner results in 13 new direct jobs and 8 new indirect jobs in Jefferson Parish. This project results in the first ever joint affiliated medical school in the United States. Also, an estimated 250 jobs were protected.
* Federal City = 749 Total New Jobs. The retention and expansion of operations at the Federal City military headquarters facility results in 300 new direct jobs and 449 new indirect jobs. Also, 1,663 jobs were protected in Orleans Parish.
* SPAWAR Systems Center = 391 Total New Jobs. The expansion of operations at the SPAWAR Systems Center results in 176 new direct jobs and 215 new indirect jobs. Also, 443 jobs were protected in Orleans Parish.
* Baker Maid Products = 155 Total New Jobs. The Baker Maid Products' bakery relocation results in 75 new direct jobs and 80 new indirect jobs in Orleans Parish.
* Seven Arts Pictures = 177 Total New Jobs. The new Seven Arts Pictures' post production film facility results in 95 new direct jobs and 82 new indirect jobs in Orleans Parish.
* New Orleans Cold Storage = 380 Retained Jobs. The relocation of NOCS to a better long-term location will protect approximately 380 existing jobs in Orleans Parish.
* Monsanto = 355 Total New Jobs. The expansion of Monsanto in St. Charles Parish results in 30 new direct jobs and 325 new indirect jobs. Also, 670 jobs were protected.
* Northrop Grumman = 71 Total New Jobs. Northrop Grumman's new Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Center for Excellence in Slidell results in 35 retained jobs, 40 new direct jobs and approximately 31 indirect jobs.
* Motor Tech Americas = 31 Total New Jobs. The relocation and expansion of Motor Tech Americas results in 15 new direct jobs and 16 new indirect jobs in Jefferson Parish.
Driving Louisiana's Economy
The Governor said that Louisiana is not only one of the few states announcing new jobs and new investments in this challenging economy, but major new economic drivers. Indeed, he noted that out of roughly 120,000 employers in the state, about 1,000 of them are responsible for more than 50 percent of the total economic activity, and the state's recent job win announcements has added to this top tier.
Governor Jindal said the expansion of Gardner Denver Thomas in Monroe, the reopening of Tembec mill in West Feliciana, the opening of the new VVC auto assembly facility in Monroe, and the opening of the new SNF chemical plant in Iberville -- will each be added to the list of top 300 economic-driver companies in Louisiana once they hit full employment.
He also highlighted other top 300 economic driver wins, including the LaShip project in Southeast Louisiana, Shaw Modular Solutions in Lake Charles, the Shaw headquarters expansion in Baton Rouge and Zagis USA.
The Governor said Louisiana has attracted three significant new headquarters to Louisiana -- including Albemarle, Bercen Inc., and Horizon Entertainment -- and the state recently added its third Fortune 500 company with the merger of CenturyTel and EMBARQ.
Louisiana Is Outperforming The Nation And The South
Governor Jindal noted that Louisiana's economy has outperformed the South and the U.S. by any reasonable measure since the beginning of the recession.
* Louisiana's unemployment was 6.7 percent in November, well below the national unemployment rate of 10 percent.
* After multiple years of out-migration, Louisiana experienced its second consecutive year of net population in-migration, with a gain of over 13,500 people from July 2007 to July 2008. In addition, Louisiana's population increased by 0.9 percent, or 37,500 people, over the same time period, the 23rd fastest growth rate in the nation.
* Mayflower Transit and United Van Lines recently ranked Louisiana as one of the top states in the country for in-migration.
* Both Fitch and Standard and Poor's recently upgraded Louisiana's bond rating, and Moody's raised the outlook on Louisiana's credit from "stable" to "positive." The upgrade by Fitch marks the first time that Louisiana's G.O. bonds have received a rating above the single "A" range since Fitch began rating Louisiana in 1997. This is the second year in a row Fitch upgrades the state's rating -- and to date, the upgrade for Louisiana is also the only upgrade of the bond rating of any state by Fitch this year.
The Governor highlighted that Louisiana and New Orleans have received national attention because of their strong performance during the recession:
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