Oct 17, 2018

Mentor Teacher and Content Leader Certificates to Expand Career Advancement Opportunities

BATON ROUGE, La.-- The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) today established new state credentials for classroom teachers who serve as mentors to aspiring teachers and as curriculum experts within their schools. The credentials, Mentor Teacher and Content Leader Certificates, will count toward requirements to obtain the certificate needed to become an assistant principal or principal.
"Across the state, our best teachers have prepared to mentor and support their peers," said State Superintendent John White. "BESE's policy changes establish a continuum of leadership roles that recognize teachers' expertise and provide them an opportunity for upward mobility."
"These new credentials reflect Louisiana's ongoing commitment to support and develop high quality teaching," said BESE Vice President Dr. Holly Boffy. "The best education systems around the world provide career advancement opportunities for their teachers, and this initiative is an important step in that direction that we can continue to build upon. Supporting and investing in our Mentor Teachers and Content Leaders strengthens the overall teaching profession, helps our students to succeed, and ultimately benefits the entire state."
In fall 2017, the Louisiana Department of Education launched a statewide effort to strengthen teachers' skills through access to ongoing professional development that helps aspiring, new and experienced teachers alike. As part of that effort, the state created two new leadership pathways for classroom teachers: Mentor Teachers and Content Leaders.
A Mentor Teacher a teacher who primarily supports aspiring teachers participating in yearlong classroom-based residencies or post-baccalaureate preparation programs. A Content Leader is a teacher who is responsible for delivering professional development aligned with state academic standards to their peers.
Mentor Teachers and Content Leaders are nominated by their school systems to attend in-person training sessions throughout the school year and to receive access to turnkey training materials. The training is currently led by national experts competitively identified by the Department, but the state will eventually seek teacher preparation providers, like colleges and universities, and other entities to carry it forward.
Toward the conclusion of the training, participants take multi-part assessments to gauge their mastery of the skills needed to serve as a Mentor Teacher or Content Leader. These assessments build on skills taught in the training and draw from their work as a Mentor Teacher or Content Leader.
To date, 1,532 educators have participated or are participating in the programs. Those who have successfully completed the training and assessment, as well as those who will do so in the future, will now be eligible to receive a certificate. The certificates will start to be issued no later July 1, 2019, and must be renewed after five years.
The certificates will lead to increased opportunities for teachers seeking to remain in the classroom, as well as for those who hope to move into administrative roles. The certificates, for example will account for 40 percent of the experiential requirements for an Educational Leadership Certificate, which is the credential needed to become an assistant principal or principal.
"Leadership should not exist solely within the confines of the front office. The knowledge gained through the credential process fosters a growth mindset in teachers that should enhance their willingness to embrace leadership opportunities," said Cammie Claytor, a social studies teacher at Brusly High School who is currently participating in the Mentor Teacher training program. "We must allow teachers to explore their leadership potential and recognize them for their efforts, and through the distinction process, districts are able to identify those teachers who have the desire and aptitude to be a leader."

The certificates build on the state's effort to strengthen the educator workforce through its nationally recognized Believe and Prepare program. Through that program, Louisiana has established a requirement for all aspiring teachers to complete a yearlong, classroom-based residency under the tutelage of an expert mentor; ensured every preparation provider offered a competency-based curriculum; and partnered with local school systems to address educator workforce issues, such as the shortage of highly trained educators in rural parishes.

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