Louisiana’s Content Leader Initiative – A Guide to State Support of Local Education Agencies

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Educators and school leaders from across the state of Louisiana – and some guests from the District of Columbia – assembled in New Orleans last month to participate in four days of intensive professional development around English language arts (ELA) instruction and content. More than 300 educators participated in the ELA Content Leader training this year, a marked increase from 70 educators in the training’s inaugural summer one year ago. The Content Leader trainings were designed and led in partnership with SchoolKit and Teaching Lab.

The Content Leader Initiative is a project of the Louisiana Department of Education and its Louisiana Believes state plan. The purpose of the initiative is to train educators from across the state on a high-quality ELA curriculum that those educators can take back to their school districts, training other educators in their school or network in how to deliver the new materials. This is the second year of the initiative, which will take place across nine days of professional instruction over summer and fall 2018. The first four days took place last week, and the remaining five professional development days will be staggered throughout the fall. giving educators time to apply the new content and methods in their classrooms and obtain feedback and evidence to bring back to later professional development sessions.

At the training, new Content Leaders were oriented to the ELA Guidebooks 2.0 curriculum; Louisiana is currently in the process of transitioning to this new curriculum, and educators reviewed what the shifts in instruction would mean for their students. Leaders focused in particular on how the new practices will better align with content standards that prepare students for college and careers, focusing on three specific areas – evidence, text complexity, and content knowledge – that are crucial to student literacy.

Representatives from the District of Columbia’s state education agencies were on hand to witness the training, which brought together new content leaders from across Louisiana’s 80 school districts. Like the District, Louisiana’s state agencies are always looking for ways to increase support to their many local education agencies. Louisiana’s Content Leader system is one promising way for a state to provide relevant, high-quality support to a diverse group of LEAs with wide-ranging content needs.

The ELA Content Leader Training for the next school year is off to a promising start, and educators are returning this week to their home districts, equipped with new content knowledge and a new sense of how the shifts in instruction will help Louisiana students prepare for college and career success. As school begins later this month, these new Content Leaders will have their schools ready to roll out a revamped ELA curriculum – an exciting development for all Louisiana students.

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