BATON ROUGE, La. - State Superintendent of Education John White announced today that 63 school districts - over 97 percent - are in compliance with the first provision of Act 1 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session. Four districts currently have interim superintendents and thus no contracts, and two districts, Claiborne and Franklin, have not complied with the requirement to submit. The provision, which took effect July 1, requires school districts to submit current contracts of district superintendents to the state. The Department of Education has posted a list of districts that have submitted contracts, as well as those that are not in compliance with the law, to its website at www.louisianaschools.net. Act 1 is a key component of Louisiana Believes, the state's comprehensive plan to empower educators and parents to make the best choices for children.
"Act 1 empowers superintendents to determine who is leading our schools and classrooms," said White. "That level of empowerment necessitates that superintendents have clear goals for results in their contracts. Many school districts are working hard to follow the new law, and they have done a good job of reporting this information in a timely manner. But, there is still work left to be done, and we are here to help districts fully implement all of the education reforms outlined in Act 1."
Act 1 gives superintendents and principals the legal empowerment to make choices about who is best to serve in their classrooms. The new statute requires districts and schools to use measures of teacher effectiveness to guide personnel policies and decisions and calls for teachers to be compensated based on experience, license area, and effectiveness, without decreasing any teacher's salary or affecting retirement. The law further preserves tenure for current teachers who earn effective ratings.
Act 1 relies on the state's educator performance evaluation model, Compass, which will be fully implemented for teachers and principals in the 2012-2013 school year. Compass outlines standards for effectiveness of educators based on qualitative professional practice measures and quantitative measures of student growth. The goal of Compass is to provide meaningful support to educators to improve instruction in Louisiana's classrooms. School districts will use Compass evaluation results to make hiring, retention and compensation decisions.
Another lesser-known provision of Act 1 requires accountability measures for district superintendents. These measures include written contracts between superintendents and school boards that contain certain performance targets. Contracts for superintendents who oversee C, D and F school systems must include performance indicators such as student achievement measures, graduation rates, and the percentage of teachers with effective or highly effective ratings. Districts are required to submit contracts to the state each time they are executed or renegotiated.
The Department will review each contract received to ensure that it contains the provisions required by law and provide feedback and support to districts as needed. Districts will receive detailed communications from the state stipulating whether contracts submitted are in compliance with the law. The Department will also provide template contracts and policies to help districts adjust current contracts and policies. This guidance is critical, as the law provides that any employment contract executed, negotiated, or renegotiated after July 1, 2012, between a local school board and a superintendent that does not meet the requirements established in law shall be null and void.
"The goal of this process is to increase transparency and open the door to better communication between districts and the state," White said. "We will be able to review these contracts and provide crucial feedback to districts and superintendents. Districts are not going to be left to navigate the provisions in the new law and Compass on their own."
To further assist districts in this process, the Department of Education has realigned staff support to school districts through the establishment of a Talent Office and a new network structure. These teams, led by former educators and school leaders, will assist school districts as they implement Compass and other components of Louisiana Believes. The network structure will serve as the primary support vehicle for districts as they implement new evaluation systems and standards. School districts will be assigned to one of five networks statewide that will assist in translating educational priorities into outcomes for students. The Department will announce the five networks, their network leaders, and district network assignments next week.