Robert Pondiscio's article on how Louisiana is promoting a coherent curriculum in a local-control state, "Louisiana Threads the Needle on Ed Reform" (Education Next, fall 2017), highlights how the state is helping districts to increase their use of high-quality curricula. This important work to improve what is taught in classrooms is aligned to another statewide initiative to improve how this content is delivered.
A more-than-ten-year partnership among Louisiana districts and the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), with the support of the LDOE, has made significant and sustained increases in the instructional skills of teachers, with a focus on teachers working with high-need students. Research demonstrates that these districts are closing achievement gaps.
Using NIET's TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, or elements of TAP, more than 15 districts across the state have increased teacher effectiveness and student learning growth. G.W. Carver Primary School in Ascension Parish, which serves a high-poverty student population, is one example in which students scoring at mastery or above on the state assessment rose from 21% to 33% over a three-year period. These gains occur when teachers have strong curriculum and content expertise, along with the instructional skills to deliver that content effectively.