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Schools give update at State of Education

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Bossier Superintendent Scott Smith kicks off the State of Education address.

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Top educational leaders from around Bossier Parish and state gathered to paint a picture of the successes and challenges faced by educators.

The Bossier Chamber’s State of Education address was held Sept. 26 at the Bossier Parish School of Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) to discuss what is happening in Bossier Parish Schools.

The State of Education event aimed to keep attendees up-to-date on all the new developments in the Bossier Parish education system because a strong education system is crucial in developing and sustaining a quality workforce.

In that vein, Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Scott Smith kicked off the event by introducing his “Launching Bossier Schools to the top” goals for Bossier students and teachers.

These included attracting and retaining top performing teachers, positioning students for success via technology, and that every child will learn and show growth.

Smith was outspoken on how his first goal can be achieved. He said Bossier is already losing some top performing teachers and the only way to attract and keep them is by increasing pay.

“The reality is we must address teacher pay in order to be competitive with these other districts. We are losing some of our best already. If we don’t narrow the gap, it will only get worse,” Smith said. “Let me just stress how important a teacher is. An effective educator is the most school- based determinant of a child’s educational outcome. So we owe it to our kids to compensate our teachers.”

The second speaker was Emily Bradley from the Louisiana Department of Education. Bradley presented the audience with the top accountability metrics for students.

Bradley said it is critical to ensure the “A” ranking in Louisiana’s letter grade system signals mastery of fundamental skills, while school rating calculations must be adjusted to reflect the progress of every individual child. She also spoke about expanding the school performance score formula to emphasize interests and opportunities for students.

“Now schools are getting scores for not only how kids are performing on the end of year assessment Leap Test, but also what progress are they making. — are students growing or making progress towards a target,” said Bradley.

The final speaker was President of the University of Louisiana System Dr. Jim Henderson. Dr. Henderson, former Bossier Parish Community College chancellor, discussed college readiness.

He also spoke about the UL Systems efforts to grow and impact the workforce with the students who are currently in college. He said his system seeks to increase value to students by recruiting, retaining and developing the highest quality faculty with focus in research and innovation.

“Our universities will maximize administrative efficiencies resulting in an increased investment in instruction and academic support,” Dr. Henderson said.

He also pointed out the UL System will produce 150,000 new graduates who are “prepared for life and career success.”

“I think it’s an incredible time to be an emerging generation going into the work force. If you like change, you have to love where we are. We have a new generation coming into the work force that is more prepared for work then every before. We’ve got to create a Louisiana that they want to be apart of, that they want to stay in,” said Dr. Henderson.