Grant to aid Compass, Common Core implementation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish School District is the recent recipient of a two-year National Education Association grant that will aid
educators in implementing Compass and Common Core state standards.
President of the St. John Association of Educators Iona Holloway said the grant may not be monetary but will likely provide support for the programs on an as-needed basis for the district. Details about the grant are scarce at the moment. Holloway said the recipients would learn more about the grant during the seventh annual NEA Foundation Cross-Site Convening, an October training session in Washington, D.C.
Third-grade teacher Kelly Eldridge said she hopes the grant will give the district a leg up and provide more guidance for teachers. According to Eldridge, Compass, in its current form, is only a means to evaluate instructors. The system lacks a viable mentoring component that would allow teachers to become more effective.
Eldridge said teachers were “thrown into the deep end” this summer after the Louisiana Department of Education announced that the education system would no longer focus on transitioning into the program. She also lamented the lack of training for teachers, who are now obligated to develop their own curriculum. There has been very little training for classroom teachers, she said.
“Common Core is a huge challenge for classroom teachers. The methodology and pedagogy for some of the core standards are very different then what we learned in college. The same can go for the Compass Rubric. Louisiana was supposed to be full implementation for only K-2 with all the other grade levels still transitioning for another year or even two. Teachers are responsible for addressing these tougher standards as well as filling in the gaps from students that did not get the transitional years,” said Eldridge.
“I am very proud of SJAE and the district for coming together and working on this. It is a wonderful opportunity for both members and the district. It is also a true example of the positive relationships that are built through the association and the district. Living and working in a state where the government seems one-sided about collective bargaining and teacher unions, this is a prime example of how well both can work together to improve teaching and our schools,” she continued.
Holloway announced that the school district was one of 17 districts in the U.S. to receive the grant. The National Association of Educators Foundation awards grants three times yearly to colleges, universities, education support professionals and K-12 teachers who seek to enhance teaching and learning.
According to the foundation website, alll
professional development must improve practice, curriculum and student achievement. Decisions regarding the content of the professional growth activities must be based upon an assessment of student work undertaken with colleagues and must be integrated into the institutional planning process. While grant funds may be used for fees, travel expenses, books or other materials that enable applicants to learn subject matter, instructional approaches and skills, “one-shot” professional growth experiences, such as attending a national conference or engaging a professional speaker, are discouraged. Recipients are required to exercise professional leadership by sharing their new learning with their colleagues.