Cover: The Louisiana Believe and Prepare Educator Preparation Reform

The Louisiana Believe and Prepare Educator Preparation Reform

Findings from the Pilot and Early Implementation Years

Published in: Institute of Education Sciences, Regional Educational Laboratory Program website (December 2022)

Posted on rand.org Mar 8, 2023

by Dan D. Goldhaber, Zeyu Xu, Kata Mihaly

Believe and Prepare is a teacher preparation reform implemented by the Louisiana Department of Education in collaboration with school systems and teacher preparation programs across the state. It was piloted in the 2014/15 school year and became mandatory in July 2018 for incoming teacher candidates in all 18 institutions of higher education that offer traditional teacher preparation programs. The reform focused on competency-based curricula, extended clinical experiences, and rigorous mentor teacher training.

A central requirement of the reform is that teacher candidates must participate in a yearlong residency with a mentor teacher. This replaced the prior shorter-term student teaching requirement, typically six weeks. To explore the extent to which the reform is contributing to expected improvement in outcomes for early career teachers, this study examined the association between the reform and in-service teacher performance ratings, teacher retention, student test scores, teacher competency, and the likelihood of three placement outcomes (being placed in the school where the teacher completed a residency, filling a teaching position in a shortage area, and being placed in a rural school).

Teachers who completed a program that had implemented Believe and Prepare were 2 percentage points more likely than teachers who completed a program that had not implemented it to stay in Louisiana for at least one year and 7 percentage points more likely to stay in the same school district for at least three years. Grade 4–8 students whose teachers completed a preparation program that had implemented Believe and Prepare during the pilot years scored 0.04 standard deviation lower on English language arts tests than students whose teachers completed a program that had not implemented it. Other teacher outcomes such as in-service performance ratings, competency as measured by Praxis II scores, school placement, and job assignment were not statistically different between teachers who completed a program that had implemented Believe and Prepare and teachers who completed other programs.

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