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A report reveals good evaluations for Louisiana teachers.
Education grads rated 'Effective'
Teachers show gains in content areas
Leah Jackson

NATCHITOCHES – First and second year classroom teachers who earned degrees from Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development were rated as effective as veteran public school teachers and other new teachers statewide. The findings are included in the Louisiana Board of Regents’ 2011-12 Annual Report for Teacher Preparation, which focuses on programs delivered by public universities, private schools and private providers.

According to the report, more than half of new teachers trained in state-approved preparation programs showed significant gains in at least one subject on their job evaluations.

The results exceeded expectations, said Jeanne Burns, associate commissioner for teacher and leadership initiatives. In a prepared statement, Burns said the outcome is noteworthy because, under the reviews, first- and second-year teachers are compared with veterans and others statewide.

The evaluations are part of the sweeping changes in teacher preparation programs from 2001 to 2010. In 2004, Louisiana became one of the first states in the nation to rate teacher training based on how students fared in the classroom. The aim was to pinpoint successful programs in the state’s 19 public and private universities with education colleges. In 2011, higher education officials announced that they would rely on the same evaluations that the state has begun for public school teachers. Under those rules, teachers are given one of four ratings: ineffective, effective/emerging, effective/proficient and highly effective.

Burns said earlier predictions assumed most new teachers would be rated in the next to lowest category: effective emerging. The results showed that half or more of the novice teachers made gains that put them in the top two categories in at least one subject.

“Many believe that students will learn less if taught by new teachers and this is simply untrue,” Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell said in a statement. “This report indicates that our universities are producing better-prepared teachers who will impact gains in student achievement,” he added.

Since 2005, graduates of NSU’s undergraduate and alternative certification programs have obtained a 100 percent passage rate on state licensure exams. For graduates of NSU’s practitioner teacher program, an alternative certification pathway, about 90 percent of new teachers scored between the effective emerging and highly effective categories in language arts and math. For graduates of NSU’s undergraduate teacher preparation programs, 73-96 percent of new teachers obtained rankings of effective emerging to highly effective across four content areas, language arts, math, reading, science and social studies. Overall, the content area most impacted by graduates of NSU’s undergraduate programs was science (96 percent) and the content area least impacted was reading (73 percent).

“NSU is proud of the success of its new teachers and their impact on student achievement. Because university faculty embraced the redesign efforts that began almost 10-years ago, new teachers now complete teacher preparation programs that are more rigorous in content and pedagogy. Extensive clinical experiences are woven into all programs and candidates are expected to work in diverse K-12 settings,” said Dr. Vickie Gentry, Dean of Education and Human Development.

Additionally, in the 2012 National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Board of Examiners Report, Northwestern State was ranked exemplary in the standard addressing field experience and clinical practice.

“Although impressed by numerous aspects of the programs, we were especially struck by the synergistic relationships among current candidates, graduates, school partners and university faculty,” said Gerry Giordano, professor of education at the University of North Florida and Chair of the NCATE Team. “We judged that these relationships had remarkably benefited both the candidates and the P - 12 students with whom they interacted. We concluded that these intense and intimate relationships were hallmarks of a teacher preparation program all institutions aspire to create.”

Overall, 87 percent of recent graduates of NSU teacher preparation programs obtained value added scores that met or exceeded expectations.

“While we are pleased with this finding, we acknowledge that a few recent graduates need continued support in order to be effective in providing instruction, managing a classroom, communicating with parents, meeting individual needs, providing a positive environment, etc. Whatever their need, we encourage recent graduates to contact us so that we can provide the resources and assistance needed. Graduate names are not included in the value-added teacher preparation annual report, and we are not able to reach out to new teachers who obtained an ineffective rating in one or more content areas,” Gentry said. “Although this number is very small, Northwestern State faculty care about the success of its graduates and want to ensure their continued improvement in the classroom.”