Parish gets $53,852 to improve persistently struggling schools

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The Louisiana Department of Education announced it approved 44 school systems’ localized plans, including Natchitoches Parish, for improving persistently struggling schools, completing the final round of a two-part School Redesign Grant process, a key component of the state’s renewed approach to school turnaround in the era of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The action is paired with funding support totaling nearly $15 million, approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) at its June 20 meeting, and builds upon the state’s approval of 19 school improvement plans in the first round in the spring. Natchitoches Parish received $53,852. Director of Curriculum and Instruction Susan Horne said the money amount the board is receiving through the SRCL grant to pay for Content Leaders. CLs are teachers nominated from the different schools to attend specialized training in their content area (ELA or math).

They had to apply and be accepted to participate in the program. They attend intensive training sessions and then are able to come back and redeliver at their schools and within the district. The money was to pay for the cost of the training ($3,500 per person) and travel (lodging, meals, travel). The teachers are disbursed among several different cohorts so they have various training dates and locations.

The training began in May at the board’s Teacher Leader Summit. “We are very excited to have received this funding to further our teachers’ professional growth and to build capacity for them to share this invaluable training with fellow teachers. Building up our own teachers and continuously exposing them to high-quality professional development that they share with others dramatically impacts the quality of the instruction our students receive, which is our ultimate goal in all that we do,” Horne said. “The process of improving persistently struggling schools will take time, but the plans we have seen are inspiring,” said State Superintendent John White. “It is great to see so many of our school leaders thinking boldly on behalf of the students who need it most. We look forward to the progress that will follow.” ESSA requires all states to identify struggling schools and award set-aside dollars to school systems that have strong evidence-based plans for improvement.

In Louisiana, a school is considered to be struggling if it earns a school performance rating of D or F—the two lowest grades in the accountability system—for three consecutive years or has a graduation rate lower than 67 percent, which is about 11 percentage points lower than the state average. Currently, 272 schools in Louisiana fit this definition