A national report issued Wednesday said Louisiana deserves a C for how it trains teachers, which is also the average grade nationally.
The eighth annual study was released by The National Council on Teacher Quality. NCTQ calls itself a nonpartisan research and policy group.
The state was faulted for what reviewers called a failure to properly prepare teachers for college and career-readiness standards, including the use of informational texts.
The report also said Louisiana is lax in what it requires prospective teachers to know about subject areas, and fails to require them to pass a content exam in four core subject areas to ensure that elementary teachers have mastered material they are licensed to teach.
However, the group said the state has stronger rules than others in what special education teachers are required to know.
It said Louisiana is one of just 10 states that connects student achievement data to teacher preparation schools, and is one of only four states that sets minimum standards for teacher preparation programs.
“The study points out important areas for improvement, building on progress already made in Louisiana by BESE and the Board of Regents,” state Superintendent of Education John White said in a prepared statement.
BESE is the acronym for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Jeanne Burns, associate commissioner of teacher and leadership initiatives for the Board of Regents, said the report is off target and focuses on BESE policies, not what is actually being done to prepare teachers.
“In some cases what NCTQ wants Louisiana to do is less rigorous than what BESE is currently requiring our programs to do,” Burns said in an email.
The report was released on the same day that the state Department of Education issued a request for applications for grants — called Believe and Prepare Educator Preparation Grants — to improve teacher training.
The aid will allow 7 to 10 school districts to partner with educator training programs.
The assistance of up to $100,000 includes school-year residencies or apprenticeships for aspiring teachers, including the ability to work with top-rated mentor teachers, see whether they meet student learning targets and receive feedback from principals and other school leaders.
The aim of the latest round of grants, like the first round, is to move from theory-based academic coursework into actual teaching.
School systems have until Jan. 30 to apply for the aid, which will extend from March, 2015 through June, 2016.
Winners will be announced in February.
State education leaders on Dec. 3 launched a series of forums to find ways to give new teachers more training before they are placed in classrooms.