NIET's work in Louisiana focuses on high-need students and high-need schools, with improvement extending districtwide. We support districts in creating a comprehensive approach to school success that is based on building school-based leadership teams, and training teacher leaders to lead weekly professional learning and provide classroom level coaching for teachers. School-level professional learning is integrated and aligned with district support, creating greater consistency and coherence for teachers. At the state level, we partner with the department of education to provide training and coaching to build capacity at the district, school, and classroom levels.
Creating a tailored, comprehensive approach to school success
This comprehensive approach looks different in each district based on their unique needs. For example, DeSoto Parish in northwest Louisiana has worked with NIET for more than a decade. Through investing in building the skills of teacher leaders and school leaders to guide school improvement, they continually evolved their practices resulting in the district moving from 45th in the state in 2009 to 12th in the state in 2019. Another longtime NIET partner, Ascension Parish, has received top growth in performance in the state and has been recognized for closing achievement gaps. This work has been supported by a variety of federal and state funds, including through the LA BOLD (Building on Leadership Development) project. By building capacity at the school and district levels, NIET supports our partners to adapt and respond to challenges. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, NIET supported our partners to provide virtual training to equip educators to adapt to changing modalities of teaching.
Innovation in high-quality curriculum implementation and new teacher support
When Louisiana introduced an initiative to support districts in selecting and implementing high-quality curricula (called Tier 1 curricula), the school-based structures in NIET partner schools and districts provided support for the rollout. Starting in the 2019-20 school year, NIET began a new partnership under the Louisiana Mentor Teacher Initiative to equip elementary school teachers to support yearlong residents and other new or developing teachers. Aspiring mentors are not only working toward an official state certification, but are also sharpening skills in their daily work.
Teacher candidates prepared for day one
Extending this work, NIET is collaborating with educator preparation programs at Southeastern Louisiana University, Louisiana State University-Alexandria, Nicholls State, and Tulane University. Universities are embedding the NIET Teaching and Learning Standards into coursework and field experiences for teacher candidates. Teacher candidates are placed in high-need schools with school-based support structures that provide weekly collaborative professional learning and individual classroom coaching. NIET's work with teacher preparation programs supports new candidates who choose to work in a high-need school and helps them be more effective on day one.