The Orchard Foundation has been awarded $4,482,635 by the U.S. Department of Education to recruit, train, support and retain effective math and science teachers in Central Louisiana middle schools. The Orchard Foundation and project partners committed in-kind matched funding of non-federal funds in the amount of $8,801,519 to implement the Central Louisiana Instructional Partnership or CLIP. This is The Orchard Foundation’s first grant under the USDOE’s Teacher Quality Partnership grant program.
The goal of the Central Louisiana Instructional Partnership project is to improve student achievement in nine rural, high-need school districts in up to 70 schools in Central Louisiana by preparing highly qualified educators to teach in critical shortage areas – middle school math and science. CLIP will address the high teacher turnover and shortages facing rural schools by developing and implementing a model of middle school math and science teacher preparation. The model will be an innovative teacher residency program with integrated professional development and induction support. In turn, CLIP is expected to produce measurable positive impacts on the academic achievement of low-performing rural Central Louisiana students in grades 6-8.
The Orchard Foundation, a nonprofit local education fund and the education arm of The Rapides Foundation, will serve as the lead organization for the Central Louisiana Instructional Partnership. CLIP Project Partners include: the nine Central Louisiana School Districts of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn; Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education & Human Development and College of Business & Technology-Computer Information Systems; Urban Learning & Leadership Center; EvalWorks; and The Rapides Foundation, which will provide grant administrative support.
“The CLIP partners have worked together for many years to assess the challenges faced by the rural public school districts in Central Louisiana, confronting the enduring and often deeply entrenched obstacles to improved teaching and student achievement,” said Dr. Marjorie Taylor, Executive Director of The Orchard Foundation. “CLIP will leverage this work to dramatically improve teacher preparation and ultimately work to close the achievement gap among rural students in an underserved region of Louisiana.”
Applicants selected for the CLIP program will complete a 15-month accelerated graduate program of study culminating in a Master of Arts in teaching degree from Northwestern State University and a professional teaching license. They will receive a stipend during their training. While completing their graduate coursework, CLIP residents will be immersed in an academic year school-based residency in a high-need school identified by the nine partner public school districts. They will experience a variety of learning opportunities alongside a trained and experienced mentor teacher. NSU’s College of Education will lead the mentoring program as an extension of their supervision of the clinical residency component of the program.
“The opportunity to diminish the critical shortage of middle school math and science teachers in Central Louisiana is exciting,” Dr. Kim McAlister, Dean of the Gallaspy College of Education & Human Development said. “Recruiting, preparing, and equipping teachers to improve student achievement is our passion in teacher preparation. We look forward to this challenge. Faculty from the School of Education and Computer Information Systems will collaboratively prepare four cohorts of teachers in a 15-month program, culminating in both certification and a master’s degree.”
CLIP residents will receive content expertise in STEM teaching techniques by NSU’s Computer Information Systems Department ensuring they will possess the content knowledge to implement STEM lessons using the latest technology in their classrooms.
Upon completion of the program, graduates will be placed in CLIP-participating schools and will receive two years of induction support with sustained coaching and professional development delivered by CLIP partner Urban Learning and Leadership Center. CLIP will identify, select, train and support highly effective school-based coaches that will carry out the rigorous induction process. CLIP graduates are expected to be retained in Central Louisiana high-need schools for at least three years as part of the CLIP agreement. EvalWorks, another CLIP partner, will provide an independent evaluation of the program to ensure project goals and objectives are being met.
Over five years, CLIP is expected to recruit, retain, and support 44 new highly qualified middle school math and science teachers in high-need schools in Central Louisiana. Additionally, 44 teachers within the school district will be trained as mentors for the field-based residency, and 44 school district educators will also learn coaching techniques to implement a regional induction program.
Applications for the first cohort of CLIP residents will be accepted in spring 2019, with a program start date scheduled for summer 2019.
Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation, said the CLIP project will play an important role in improving educational attainment and achievement in the region. “Research shows that the leading school-based effects for student success are the teacher that’s in the classroom with the students and the leadership within the school and school district,” Rosier said. “The CLIP project serves to increase that pipeline of very effective, STEM-trained teachers going into schools throughout the region where they are needed the most.”