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Contact: Christine Payton Dec. 15, 2009
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
 
WASHINGTON POST SINGLES OUT UL LAFAYETTE TEACHER PREPARATION
 
Acadiana has known all along that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette takes its job of educating teachers seriously. Now, the nation will know.

National media attention is being given to the university’s focus on properly preparing teachers and the responsibility that comes with it. Reporters with both The Washington Post and National Public Radio met with UL Lafayette officials last week for interviews about teacher preparation. The Post article was published Sunday and Larry Abramson’s report for National Public Radio is expected to be filed soon. He interviewed UL Lafayette President Joseph Savoie and Provost Steve Landry.

The Post article reached potentially 2 million readers Sunday and the NPR story could reach an audience of 27.5 million Americans.

The media attention comes after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized Louisiana for being the first state in the U.S. to tie student test scores to effective and ineffective teacher preparation programs. He called the state a model for the nation.

“ Officials at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette opted to increase admission requirements, added a career counseling program to better prepare teachers for the transition to the classroom, and boosted coursework requirements in English Language Arts. Real change, based upon the real outcomes of children—revolutionary, isn't it?,” he said in a speech at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.

Louisiana’s accountability efforts began in 2002 with the federal No Child Left Behind initiative of the Bush administration. Now, the Obama administration wants to use test scores to evaluate teachers and the universities that train them.

Washington Post reporter Nick Anderson visited UL Lafayette last week and met with Savoie, Dr. Gerald Carlson, dean of the College of Education, and

Education faculty. Carlson introduced Anderson to current students and recent graduates who are now teachers across Acadiana.

In the article, Savoie described the initiative as “accountability on steroids” and addressed a recent report from the state Board of Regents that examined three years of test data from classrooms. In the report, UL Lafayette scored lower than expected in elementary English Language Arts.

“ We got the numbers and said, ‘We’ve got to figure this out,’” Savoie said in the article. He quickly gathered administrators within the college to discuss remedies and decided to increase admissions criteria and add more writing and grammar instruction to the curriculum.

“ As the institution that prepares the majority of the teachers in this area, it is our responsibility to make sure our graduates are ready for the classroom and can deliver effective instruction to our children on day one,” said Savoie. “We welcome ways to ensure that this preparation is successful and have no problems looking at the data and making changes if necessary.”

According to Anderson, “In the tradition-bound world of teacher education, experts say, such rapid-fire decisions based on classroom test results are rare.”

Arthur Levine, former president of Teacher’s College at Columbia University and frequent critic of teacher education programs, said, “A lot of people are talking about doing it, but Louisiana got there first. It’s the model.”

To read the complete article by Anderson, visit www.washingtonpost.com/education.

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About UL Lafayette
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest university in the state, with over 16,000 students. It ’s a public institution that awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. It includes diverse offerings from the humanities to scientific research and leads the nation in areas like computer science, biology and nursing. Its student-athletes – Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns – compete in NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate competition.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Document last revised Tuesday, December 15, 2009 9:05 AM

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