Louisiana's Push to Improve Teacher Prep through Mentors

January 03, 2019 • Zach DiSchiano

teacher training

Like most states, Louisiana schools are staffed with many alternatively certified teachers, which multiple studies have found can present challenges in teacher turnover and effectiveness.

In Louisiana, nearly 20 percent of teachers who go the alternative certification route leave the profession entirely after just two years. And, in a cycle we’ve seen frequently in Texas, that usually leads to a lack of highly qualified teachers in low-income urban and rural districts.

Hoping to counter that trend and improve the quality of training for alternatively certified teachers, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) launched a pilot program encouraging districts to create new, innovative ways of supporting first-year teachers from nontraditional certification backgrounds.

Eight Louisiana districts received grants from LDOE to support 38 alternative-certification candidates teaching in 16 schools. In each program, candidates received an average of one full period of support from a mentor each day, increasing the amount of practice alternatively certified teachers receive by 350 percent.

Like all grant programs, the money won’t be around forever. But the participating schools have found ways to make the pilot programs cost-neutral through staffing and school schedule changes and class size adjustments.

After surveying participating alternative-certification candidates and mentors to assess the progress of the pilot programs, LDOE found both candidates and mentors alike expressed a desire for even more time to co-teach and observe.

The department is planning to publish a toolkit for school systems across Louisiana in January that will give recommendations for analyzing schedules and class structures to replicate this model in other districts.

For more information on the program, check out this Education Week report.

Zach DiSchiano is a communications specialist at TASB HR Services. Send Zach an email at zachary.dischiano@tasb.org.

Tagged: Certification, Retention, "Teacher certification", "Teacher training"