Jindal Promises Education Reform for Louisiana in 2012

During a visit of the state of Louisiana’s elementary, middle and high schools, Governor Bobby Jindal hinted at the education reforms he’s planning to enact in the coming year, writes Matthew Albright at the Daily Comet.

Jindal kicked off his tour of schools with a visit to Dularge Middle School. Dularge recently won a High Performing-High Poverty School designation. Jindal met teachers and visited classrooms and then met with Superintendent Philip Martin, Assistant Superintendent Carol Davis and Dularge Middle Principal Cheryl Degruise.

“We came here to see our reforms in action but also to listen and see what we can do better to improve the lives of our kids,” Jindal said.

“We heard a lot that we can incorporate into our reform plan, including how critical it is to have effective teachers in the classroom, how red tape hampers a school’s ability to make smart decisions with their dollars and how the state can be a better partner for our districts.”

“It’s a big honor for him to be here.” Superintendent Martin said.

“He knows a lot about our schools, and he spent a lot of time asking us about what the state can do to help.”

Some of the reforms that Jindal referred to implementing statewide were -

  • A teacher-performance incentive program that financially rewards teachers and schools whose students perform well on standardized tests.
  • An emphasis on intervening with third-grade students who struggle with math and reading. The effort aims to bring them up to speed before they take the high-stakes LEAP test as fourth-graders.
  • A pilot program that includes students’ standardized scores in individual teacher evaluations.

Terrebonne district (of which Dularge is a part of) is one of the few school systems in the state to participate in the Act 54 pilot program. The system differs from common practice as it bases half of a teacher’s evaluation on principal evaluations and classroom observations, it then completes the evaluations with “value-added” assessments that track how much students improve over the course of a school term.

This improvement is largely measured in terms of standardized-test scores given at the beginning and end of the term. That has upset some teacher unions, who don’t think standardized tests fully measure a student’s skills. But Jindal defended standardized tests, saying:

“Student achievement has to be tied somehow to student results.”