The Louisiana Department of Education today announced the creation of a support team to ease districts’ transition to student curriculum changes and new methods for educator evaluations, both of which will begin in the coming school year.

The curriculum, called the Common Core State Standards, is an initiative being used in state education systems across the country that attempts to better equip students for success after graduation. It targets English language arts and math courses, although Louisiana’s rollout of these standards will also include an update to the state’s social studies curriculum.

And the educator evaluation system, called Compass, requires 50 percent of a teacher or principal’s evaluation to be based on student growth – namely, test scores. Both the curriculum and the evaluation changes were approved by the legislature in 2010, and both are part of State Superintendent John White’s much-touted Louisiana Believes education plan.

Louisiana is one of 45 states that have agreed to implement the curriculum changes. Kindergarten and first-graders will begin the new standards this August. All other grades will be taught a transitional curriculum, with everyone subject to the changes by the 2014-2015 year.

Each school district will be grouped into one of five statewide networks that guide these changes, White’s office announced today. These networks will consist of instruction specialists, and each one will be overseen by an education leader.


Gayle Sloan, the district support officer in the state education department’s Office of Innovation and a former St. Tammany Parish Schools superintendent, will lead the network that represents Orleans Parish. Other network leaders include Warren Drake, the superintendent of the high-performing Zachary Community School District; Kerry Laster, deputy superintendent of literacy for the state department, Melissa Stilley, chief academic officer for the Tangipahoa Parish School Board, and Francis Touchet, principal at Erath High School.


Stephen Osborn, a former chief operating officer for the New Beginnings charter school network who now serves as the state’s assistant superintendent for student programs, will work closely with all five networks, the department announced.

White spoke highly of the network leaders, calling them the best fits for the job.

“These educators were in the trenches working alongside teachers,” White said.  “They know what tools are needed to help our teachers and students succeed.”

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...