Governor Bobby Jindal addressed the Council for a Better Louisiana's (CABL) annual meeting today where he emphasized the strong link between having a highly effective teacher and student achievement in the classroom and the workforce. Governor Jindal said Louisiana's current education system does not reward the truly excellent teachers and incentivize others to achieve excellence.
Governor Jindal said, "We have great and dedicated teachers in Louisiana. I wouldn't be where I am today were it not for the incredible teachers I encountered in public schools. But we need to have an honest and open discussion about teacher quality in Louisiana if we truly want to give our children a world-class education.
"Decades of research show that there are many variables that can have an impact on student achievement. But of all of these, the one with the largest impact is the effectiveness of a child's teacher. Nothing else comes close. The fact that teacher quality is so important makes sense--teachers are the backbone of education. Yet, we treat all teachers the same with our one size fits all system. Indeed, we seemingly reward everything but effectiveness and, in the process, we tie the hands of districts to make smart personnel decisions that retain and reward the most effective educators.
"At the end of the day, this system is denying students their potential. We have to do better and we will do better because our kids only grow up once. Every child deserves a great teacher."
Below Are The Governor's Full Remarks As Prepared For Delivery:
"Congratulations to CABL on your 50th anniversary and I want to thank you for inviting me to speak today.
"CABL has long had two top priorities: education and our economy. This organization rightly says that the two are uniquely linked.
"Indeed, improving education achievement rates is one of the best predictors of increasing income levels, improving health outcomes, decreasing crime rates, and otherwise improving quality of life where Louisiana has often lagged behind in the past.
"In so many of these important metrics, improving the education system for our children is critical.
"We need to graduate more students who are better prepared to further their education and enter the workforce.
"By doing this, Louisiana will be primed for rapid economic development: more business investment and more jobs for our people.
"That's why education reform is so important.
"If we don't this now, the result will be continued poor student performance, a less prepared workforce and slower economic growth.
"Indeed, Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has equated our nation's failure to catch up with our international competitors in academic achievement to a permanent recession -- costing our country an estimated $50 trillion in Gross Domestic Product over 80 years.
"The same principles apply here in Louisiana. Until we are able to not only equal, but surpass the quality of education provided by our fellow states and countries around the world, Louisiana will not be able to reach its full potential.
"A few weeks ago, we received scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress that showed Louisiana's fourth and eighth graders are making slight gains in reading and math, but when compared to the rest of the nation, we are at the bottom of the country in student achievement: 48th in fourth grade math, 46th in eighth grade math, 47th in fourth grade reading and 48th in eighth grade reading.
"While our achievement has increased by over 10 points on fourth grade math since 2000, for example, we're still another 10 points behind the national average in 2011. This is simply unacceptable.
"The results are just as sobering on our state tests.
"In 2010, there were still 230,000 students below grade level in Louisiana, or one third of students in public schools.
"In New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport, nearly half the students in the public schools were behind.
"We also learned this fall that 44 percent of our schools were Ds or Fs.
"That means nearly 600 schools have at least 37 percent of their students below grade level and in many of those schools, it's much more. In the F schools alone, at least two-thirds of students are below grade level.
"When almost half our schools have at least a third of their students behind grade level that means we have a system that isn't working.
"Without question, our education system needs reform, but first we need to look at why student achievement is lacking in Louisiana before we talk about the solutions.
"Decades of research show that there are many variables that can have an impact on student achievement.
"But of all of these, the one with the largest impact is the effectiveness of a child's teacher. Nothing else comes close.
"That's why today I'm going to focus today on the importance of having a great teacher in every classroom.
"Before I go into more detail about teacher quality, I want to make one thing very clear -- we have great and dedicated teachers in Louisiana.
"When I took office, Louisiana ranked 39th in the nation out of 40 states reviewed in discipline. Indeed, roughly 50 percent of new teachers were leaving Louisiana's public schools within five years, with a majority citing classroom behavior as the top reason.
That's why I took the following actions: Pushed for a teacher pay raise that brought the average teacher salary up to the SREB average, empowered teachers through a Teacher's Bill of Rights and stronger discipline laws to support teachers in the classroom, signed a law prohibiting teachers from completing duplicate, burdensome paperwork to decrease the amount of time a teacher spends on paperwork in the classroom, expanded Teacher and Student Advancement, a teacher merit pay model that has been shown to improve teacher effectiveness. Louisiana is just one of three states to have an extensive program, and signed the Red Tape Waiver and Local Empowerment Act to help local school districts cut through red tape and provide schools with the flexibility needed to improve student performance.
"I wouldn't be where I am today was it not for the incredible teachers I encountered in public school.
"But we need to have an honest and open discussion about teacher quality in Louisiana if we truly want to give our children a world class education.
"The data show that a highly effective teacher can significantly change the academic prospects of a student, or conversely, seriously derail them.
"For example, a study conducted in Tennessee found that a student who had an effective teacher three years in a row outscored his peer who had an ineffective teacher over the same time period by as much as fifty points in math.
"Another study in Texas found that reading scores for 6th graders would increase from the 59th percentile to the 76th percentile if they were in the classroom of a highly effective teacher three years in a row--or decline to the 42nd percentile after three years in the classroom of an ineffective teacher.
"Teacher quality goes beyond the classroom too and it impacts the lives of students who will one day be part of the workforce.
"For instance, let's assume that all teachers are ranked on a scale 1 to 100, with 50 representing average.
"According to Stanford economist Eric Hanushek, a student in the classroom of a teacher that's at the 60th percentile, or moderately above average, can expect to earn $5,300 more than a student in the classroom with a teacher in the 50th percentile.
"In the classroom next door, let's say there is a teacher in the 69th percentile. Students in this classroom can expect to earn $10,600 more in lifetime earnings than the student in the average teacher's classroom. For a class size of 20, that's $212,000 over those students' lifetimes.
"But for a truly effective teacher--let's say the 84th percentile--a student in this classroom can expect to earn $20,000 more than their peers in an average teacher's classroom, or $400,000 for a class size of 20.
"Unfortunately, the converse is also true for students in classrooms of teachers that are low performing. A teacher in the 16th percentile will cost a student $20,000 in lifetime earnings or $400,000 for a class of 20.
"Put another way, having a highly effective teacher can change a kid's life.
"So how is Louisiana measuring the effectiveness of teachers?
"For many years, Louisiana tried to measure effectiveness through seniority, graduate degrees, and higher levels of certification.
"But the reality is that none of those things are strong predictors of student success.
"Then, in 2010, we adopted a value-added teacher evaluation system that actually measures student achievement and ties it back to the teacher in whose classroom the student was learning.
"It complements the value-added assessment we do annually of our teacher preparation programs to ensure that they are producing the highest quality teacher candidates possible, by looking at the value-added outcomes of their graduates' students.
"What's different about measuring how much a student is learning rather than what a student knows means we can identify teachers that are moving the needle, rather than which students are more academically prepared.
"This identifies teachers that are truly excellent, rather than teachers that happen to teach in better schools.
"It does this by looking at the student growth--did a student learn more than a year's worth of material in a single year, an average amount, or less than a year's worth?
"Indeed, a student assigned to a truly highly effective teacher can make as much as one and one-half years of progress in a single year, while one in the classroom of an ineffective teacher will fall behind on average by half a year of material.
"Multiply this over time, and you see a student in an ineffective teacher's classroom falling further and further behind.
"The reality is that teachers are a diverse group of professionals with varying levels of ability.
"Now, with our value-added teacher evaluation system, for the first time we are now able to identify the most effective teachers in Louisiana.
"Shouldn't we reward the truly excellent teachers and incentivize others to achieve excellence? Unfortunately, our system doesn't do this today.
"The fact that teacher quality is so important makes sense--teachers are the backbone of education.
"Yet we treat all teachers the same with our one size fits all system. Indeed, we seemingly reward everything BUT effectiveness and in the process, we tie the hands of districts to make smart personnel decisions that retain and reward the most effective educators.
"The result is that we've created a teaching pipeline that is actually contradictory to what we need -- more highly effective teachers.
"Now that we can identify our effective educators, an excellent teacher pipeline begs three questions.
"The first is how do we incentivize smart, energetic people into the classroom?
"We know we need our smartest people teaching our children, including energetic young people, experienced career-switchers, or seasoned retirees. How do we make teaching a career that attracts driven, smart individuals?
"The second is how we get great teachers to stay?
"Today, we treat all teachers the same regardless of how effective they are, and that doesn't incentivize teachers to achieve greatness nor does it acknowledge the particularly excellent educators who could act as mentors for other teachers. How do we reward our truly excellent teachers so that they want to stay in the classroom?
"And finally, the third is how do we support struggling teachers who want to improve?
"We know there is variation in teacher quality, but we also know that most teachers are passionate and dedicated. So when it comes to low performers, we have to recognize that there are also two types:
"First, there are ineffective teachers who want to improve, and we're going to identify those teachers and work with them to provide the remediation that they need to be more effective.
"But there are also ineffective teachers who are resistant to change and want to keep using the same ineffective strategies, and we need to move those folks out of the classroom.
"The bottom line is we have to figure out how we give districts the flexibility to make smart staffing choices.
"The good news is that Louisiana is primed to have a new teaching pipeline that empowers effective teachers because we now have an evaluation system that can identify them.
"Here's what I plan to do: Over the course of the next several weeks, I'm going to be sitting down with teachers, parents, policymakers, union leaders and many others to hear their thoughts on specifically how we attract high quality candidates, keep highly effective educators, and support struggling teachers to help them improve or move them out of the classroom.
"In order to find the right answers, we're going to have ask the right questions -- specifically what's it going to take to make classrooms more effective?
"I'm going to ask school leaders and teachers: What kinds of tools do you need to create the highest quality workforce in your schools possible?
"And I'm going to ask parents: What kinds of levers do you need to make sure that your child is in the classroom of an effective teacher?
"And from union leaders I want to know: How should we craft this teacher pipeline together to support a system of excellent schools in Louisiana so that every child is in the classroom of an effective educator?
"As we talk to folks around the state, one thing we won't accept is defenders of the status quo who simply want more time or money. We've tried that already. It doesn't work.
"But if there are new ideas that build on the reform foundation that we have laid down in the last four years, I want to hear these ideas from the educators on the front lines.
"You have heard a lot of statistics from me today and they are important, but let me boil this down to one simple thing -- what does every parent want for their child?
"We want our kids to have more opportunity than we did.
"That's the dream of every Louisianian and every American.
"We are fortunate to live in a country where our kids have the opportunity to be more successful than we are.
"That means we have to give our kids the opportunity to be in the best schools and have great teachers.
"It doesn't matter where they're from, what color they are, or what their last name is -- every child in Louisiana deserves a great teacher and the opportunity to learn the skills they need to advance in school, graduate, and get a great job here in Louisiana.
"That's why education reform is my top priority. I want each of you to join me in this fight and make education reform your top priority. Together, we can make a lasting change in the lives of our children.
"We have to do better and we will do better because our kids only grow up once.