Teacher Candidates at UL System Schools to Meet Higher Standards –

Teacher Candidates at UL System Schools to Meet Higher Standards –
Bussie, Rhodes and Porter Sworn in as Board Members – May 30, 2003

Baton Rouge, LA — The university system that produces most of Louisiana’s teachers raised its standards for new teacher candidates today, a move that proponents say will result in better-prepared teachers for Louisiana’s classrooms and higher achievement among pre-K to 12th grade students.

The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System passed a “Renewed Guarantee for Teacher Quality and Student Achievement in Louisiana.” The new guarantee, signed by its presidents, raises the minimum score required for passage of the Praxis I test, a test that all teacher candidates must pass before entering colleges of education and the first step in attaining certification to teach.

In addition to raising the quality of teaching candidates, the new guarantee also prescribes ways for universities to increase the quantity of prospective teachers, especially minorities and those in critical shortage areas. It also calls on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to continue its drive to ensure that school districts hire and place teachers in classrooms within their primary fields of study or preparation.

“Research shows that teachers with the strongest general knowledge have the greatest impact on student achievement.
Since our System graduates 65 percent of Louisiana’s teachers, we feel a particular obligation to ensure that our graduates have deep subject content knowledge. I believe we can meet the higher expectations while recruiting more teachers, especially in critical shortage areas,” UL System President Sally Clausen said.

The new requirements will go into effect for freshmen entering UL System universities in the fall 2004 semester.

According to the new guarantee:

  • The minimum score for UL System students on the Praxis I test will increase up to four points over three years (year 1 – two- point increase; year 2 – observation; year 3 – up to an additional two-point increase), from a current average cut-off score of 171 to a new average score as high as 175. Currently, of the 32 states that require Praxis cut-off scores, Louisiana’s scores are second from the bottom of national scores ranging from a low of 169 to a high of 178. The new standard will place UL System graduates closer to the top of the range. The highest score possible is 190. 
  • UL System institutions commit to increasing not just the quality, but also the quantity, of teachers they produce, especially minority teachers and teachers in critical shortage areas (math, science, middle school and special education). The schools would have to meet specific goals and employ aggressive recruitment efforts to find talented candidates. 
  • UL System universities will make systematic efforts to identify freshman candidates who may have difficulty with the Praxis I examination and to provide them with assistance. 
  • UL System institutions, jointly with school districts, will continue supporting and providing professional development to teachers, particularly in their first three years of service. 
  • The UL System Board is asking BESE to continue its efforts to encourage school districts to hire and place teachers in their areas of certification.

UL System Vice President Loren Blanchard, who worked with UL System presidents and deans to craft the new guarantee, said that higher university admission standards in 2005 will help ensure a better-prepared entering freshman.

“Therefore, more students will be prepared for the higher Praxis I standard. And, in turn, students who meet that standard will more likely do well on Praxis II. Raising the bar will result in better-prepared teachers overall,” he said.

“Very few systems in the country have had the courage to do what this system is doing,” Education Trust Director Kati Haycock said. “A high quality teacher has the greatest impact on student achievement.” Haycock and Jan Somerville, of the National Association of System Heads, addressed UL System Board members and other education leaders on the topic Thursday.“This is a bold step,” Somerville said. “Louisiana can be used as a model for how higher education can make a real difference in student achievement.”

Clausen pioneered the idea of a teacher guarantee in 1999. The guarantee, which has been adopted by other UL System presidents, assures that each institution will retrain its teachers if they do not perform according to certain agreed-upon standards of performance at no cost to the student or the school system.

In other business, the UL System Board welcomed three new members, former AFL-CIO President Victor Bussie of Baton Rouge, Grambling alumnus Walter Rhodes and student board member Jennifer Porter from Louisiana Tech.

Bussie, President Emeritus for the Louisiana AFL-CIO, is a lifetime public servant. He has served on countless boards and committees including the National Civil Defense Advisory Council and the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation. He also served as a member of the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Higher Education Commission for the 21st Century.

Rhodes, a managing partner of a consulting group for Fortune 500 companies, received both a bachelor’s degree in finance and in economics from Grambling State University. He also serves on the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and is a member of the National Urban League, 100 Black Men and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Porter, Student Government President of Louisiana Tech University, has received Louisiana Tech’s Outstanding Woman Award for the past two years. She is a member of Tech’s National Champion Powerlifting Team and was chosen as Tech’s Homecoming Queen. Porter holds the title of Miss Governor City Louisiana and is preparing for the Miss Louisiana pageant this June.


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