Louisiana – Instructional Materials
In a study of 15 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states, researchers at SREB identified the degree to which the Louisiana Department of Education provided leadership and support for the statewide use of high-quality instructional materials that aligned to the state’s K-12 college- and career-readiness standards in English language arts (ELA) and math.
SREB developed a list of actions that demonstrate state leadership and support in each of the three areas listed below. These actions, or “look-fors,” guided data collection and the analysis of state efforts. Read about the look-fors in the full report, located to the right. State efforts in each area fell into one of three levels of implementation: minimal, essential or strong. In some cases, SREB researchers also designated a state action as notable. Below is a detailed description of this state’s efforts.
Table of Contents
- Strong efforts to establish clear and rigorous conventions to assess the quality and alignment of instructional materials to college- and career-readiness standards, including the revised Louisiana Student Standards, which educators began implementing in 2016-17. The Louisiana Department of Education established consistent criteria, based on nationally recognized tools, to assess the quality and alignment of textbooks, benchmark and formative assessments, and online, on-demand instructional materials. The department’s Curricular Resources Annotated Review process stood out among other review processes in SREB states for its rigor, timeliness and involvement of educators, the public and vendors.
- Strong support for local efforts to align instructional materials. The department provided extensive online guidance and instructional materials for on-demand access by educators. Guidance included instructional guidebooks, developed by Louisiana educators, that laid out fully developed, coherent, yearlong, grade-specific curricula, including instructional units, lesson plans, texts and classroom assessments. SREB researchers found the department’s Teacher Support Toolbox to be a particularly user-friendly platform. The department offered multiple types of coordinated professional learning and technical assistance that reached most schools and districts in the state, including the Teacher Leader initiative, District Support Networks, and Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC) training.
- Strong use of data to guide continuous improvement. The department regularly gathered multiple types of data. Data included trends in educator use and perceptions of the quality of the state’s guidance, instructional materials, professional learning and technical assistance, as well as educators’ emerging needs for resources and support. The department gathered these data through Teacher Support Toolbox usage reports, feedback from district leaders and teachers participating in department professional development activities, and classroom observations. Additionally, through their regular interactions with district teams in the District Support Networks and phone calls with select districts, department staff gathered information on local curriculum alignment practices. To use the data gathered to inform state efforts, assistant superintendents from across the department met quarterly, and teams of department project managers met regularly.
Did the department establish clear criteria and a clear process for identifying high-quality instructional materials aligned to the state’s college- and career-readiness standards?
Louisiana provided strong leadership and support in this area.
The department established consistent criteria, based on nationally recognized tools, to assess the quality of textbooks, benchmark and formative assessments, and online instructional materials, and their alignment to the state’s college- and career-readiness standards—the Louisiana Student Standards. The department established clear processes that involved educators to frequently develop and review all of these resources. The Curricular Resources Annotated Review process for textbooks and benchmark assessments was notable for its rigor, timeliness and involvement of educators, the public and vendors.
Table 1: State Criteria and Processes for Reviewing Textbooks and Online, On-Demand Instructional Materials
|State authority and role in developing and selecting instructional materials
|Criteria the state used to develop and select materials
|Process the state used to develop and select materials
|In accordance with state law:
The department developed rubrics (documents that outline expectations, guidelines and procedures) for assessing the degree of alignment of materials, based on Student Achievement Partners’ Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool (IMET). The IMET is nationally recognized as a clear, detailed and accurate tool to assess the quality and alignment of textbooks to college- and career-readiness standards.
The Curricular Resources Annotated Review process involved public comment, pre-screening of materials by the department, review and ranking by trained teacher leader advisors (see more on Teacher Leader initiative below in “Professional Learning and Technical Assistance”) and department content specialists, further public comment and final rankings by the department. Subject area materials were submitted by vendors and reviewed on a rolling basis, as funding allowed. ELA and math were fully reviewed in fall 2015, and the department began conducting the next full review in 2016. The department posted weekly updates to its website for educators about the review process and ratings.
|Online, On-Demand Instructional Materials
The department developed rubrics, based on the IMET and Achieve’s OER and Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) rubrics. These rubrics are nationally recognized as clear, detailed and accurate tools to assess the quality and alignment of instructional materials to college- and career-readiness standards.
The department provided recommended benchmark assessments and the EAGLE 2.0 collection of formative assessment items. Districts could select benchmark assessments for local use, and teachers could use the formative assessment items to develop their own classroom assessments.
The department developed rubrics based on Student Achievement Partners’ Assessment Evaluation Tool (AET). This tool is nationally recognized as a clear, detailed and accurate instrument to assess the quality and alignment of benchmark and formative assessments to college- and career-readiness standards.
Did the department provide guidance, instructional materials, professional learning and technical assistance to build local knowledge and skills, and support educator use of aligned materials?
Louisiana provided strong leadership and support in this area.
The department provided extensive online guidance and instructional materials for on-demand access by educators. SREB researchers found the department’s Teacher Support Toolbox to be a particularly user-friendly platform. The department offered multiple types of coordinated professional learning and technical assistance that reached most, if not all, schools and districts in the state. These services included training on how to apply the nationally recognized criteria the department used to review instructional materials (described above), and extensive support for school and district leaders. Examples of the department’s efforts include the following.
Guidance could include information about the standards and aligned teaching strategies, rubrics for gauging alignment of instructional materials, templates for designing aligned instruction, lists of adopted textbooks and online professional learning resources. Louisiana provided the following guidance documents.
- List of recommended textbooks, OER and benchmark assessments reviewed through the Curricular Resources Annotated Review process. As of 2015-16, the department rated 103 textbooks, OER and benchmark assessments.
- District Planning Guide and Principals’ Teaching & Learning Guidebook, which included guidance for district and school leaders on selecting and implementing aligned curriculum, assessments and professional learning
- Extensive archived training materials from the department’s annual Teacher Leader summits and quarterly collaboration events since 2014-15
Instructional materials could include a variety of tools and resources that educators use to plan and deliver instruction, such as model lesson and unit plans, sample formative assessments, textbooks, student workbooks and manipulatives, recommended texts and videos, and multimedia learning tools. Louisiana provided the following types of instructional materials.
- Teacher Support Toolbox extensive collection of model lesson and unit plans, model instructional tasks and classroom assessment resources
- Guidebooks, released in 2014, including a yearlong scope and sequence for instruction in pre-K-12 ELA and math, and literacy in grades six through 12, including several fully developed instructional units per grade level; classroom materials; recommended texts; assessment guides and sample items; remediation and differentiation tools; and videos of classroom instruction
- ELA Guidebooks 2.0, released in May 2016, provided fully developed, coherent, yearlong ELA curricula, including instructional units, lesson plans, texts and classroom assessments for grades three through 12. The guidebooks also offered differentiation strategies to support struggling students and English learners.
- EAGLE 2.0 collection of formative assessment items, sample tests and rubrics aligned to the guidebooks, including differentiation strategies to support struggling students
Professional Learning and Technical Assistance
- Training for selected teachers in the department’s Teacher Leader initiative on using the IMET and AET to design and select instructional materials to meet the needs of all students. These teachers then helped lead ongoing, intensive professional learning and support for their peers, who represented all 1,407 schools in the state. See SREB’s May 2016 Louisiana professional learning profile for details on the Teacher Leader initiative, which began in 2013-14.
- Professional learning packages for the most popular instructional materials recommended through the department’s Curricular Resources Annotated Review. Districts could access packages from the vendors. The department worked with the vendors that developed those materials to design the packages.
- Training on LDC and MDC
- Training and virtual follow-up support throughout 2015-16 for participants in the Teacher Leader initiative, offered in collaboration with SREB
- LDC training since 2011, and MDC training since 2012, for teachers and school and district leaders from 40 selected districts
- Extensive support for leaders of schools and districts
- Regular professional learning and technical assistance on standards implementation and instructional materials alignment for leadership teams from all districts in the state through the District Support Networks. See SREB’s May 2016 Louisiana professional learning profile for more details about the initiative.
- Sessions during quarterly Teacher Leader collaboration events, to assist school and district leaders in building the capacity of teacher leaders to implement curriculum alignment practices
- Principal fellowship, in partnership with the National Institute of School Leadership, offering 18 months of support based on the department’s Principals’ Teaching & Learning Guidebook
- TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, provided in collaboration with National Institute for Excellence in Teaching for principals
“You really have to support implementation – you can’t just go to a free online program and think ‘It’s going to be cheap and easy and we’re good to go.’ Without professional development to go along with it, you’re going to have a lot of frustrated teachers. So, as much time as we’ve thought about getting quality curriculum into peoples’ hands, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the professional development to support the curriculum at scale.”—Staff member, Louisiana Department of Education
Did the department regularly gather and use multiple types of data in order to continuously improve its leadership and support for the statewide alignment of instructional materials to college- and career-readiness standards?
Louisiana provided strong leadership and support in this area.
The department frequently gathered four of the five types of data that SREB deemed key for state leadership, including information on local curriculum alignment practices. Data showed that large numbers of districts used items recommended through the Curricular Resources Annotated Review process. Leaders and staff from across the agency, as well as educators and partners, participated in analysis and discussion of the data. The department used the data in three ways to inform its work.
Table 2: Data the Department Gathered to Inform its Efforts
|Key types of data
Educator use of state guidance and instructional materials, and educator participation in the professional learning and technical assistance the department offered
Educator perceptions of the quality of the state’s offerings
Educator emerging needs
Impact of state offerings on measurable teacher or student outcomes
Local curriculum alignment practices
The department used this data to improve three of its supports for local instructional materials alignment:
- Professional learning and technical assistance
- Online guidance and instructional materials
- Communication with district leaders about best practices
The department established the following routines to analyze data, discuss findings and determine actions to address identified needs:
- Assistant superintendents from across the department met quarterly.
- Teams of project managers from across the agency met regularly.
- Department staff conducted focus groups with educators and met with curriculum vendors.
As Louisiana strives to continuously improve, state leaders may wish to consider the following recommendations.
- Continue and enhance the state’s strong support for local efforts to align instructional materials. This will ensure that educators continue to have needed tools and support to help them learn about, design and deliver instruction on the revised Louisiana Student Standards, which educators began implementing in 2016-17.
- See other strong state efforts to provide extensive online tools described in the Florida, Maryland and North Carolina profiles.
- See other strong state efforts to provide professional learning and technical assistance services that were intensive, integrated and sustained, and that reached large numbers of districts, schools or educators described in the Alabama and Kentucky profiles.
- Continue and enhance the state’s strong use of data to drive improvement. For example, examine how the use of state materials and services impacts educator practice and student learning. See other strong state efforts to use data for continuous improvement noted in the Arkansas, Delaware, Tennessee and West Virginia profiles.