The Ascension Parish school system has received a $65,000 state grant to enable college graduates with degrees outside education to become certified as teachers for the district.
The Ascension Parish school district is one of 14 school systems awarded the grant for 2015-2016 school year.
“Most of our teachers come to us with education degrees, but we’re seeing a number of people coming to us through alternative certification programs,” Ascension School Superintendent Patrice Pujol said Thursday.
Under the Teach Ascension program, which begins this fall, the school district will place candidates in some of its schools for a year of teaching with faculty support.
At the end of the year, recruits who score either “highly effective” or “effective proficient,” under the state’s teacher evaluation system, will earn their teacher certification.
The Ascension Parish school district will be providing the teacher certification. Other school systems will be partnering with universities or other organizations for the certification process.
School systems in the area that have also received the Believe and Prepare grant for the next school year are:
— West Baton Rouge Parish schools in partnership with LSU.
— Algiers Charter School Association in partnership with The New Teacher Project.
— Crescent City Schools in partnership with Relay Graduate School of New Orleans.
— Cypress Academy, in New Orleans, in partnership with Foundation Preparatory and Vanderbilt University.
— FirstLine charter schools, KIPP charter schools and New Orleans College Prep in partnership with Relay Graduate School of New Orleans.
— Lusher Charter School in partnership with Tulane University.
— Orleans Parish Schools in partnership with Xavier University and Nunez Community College.
The Believe and Prepare grant program was launched by the state Education Department in April 2014.
“Through Believe and Prepare, school systems and colleges can partner to ensure every teacher candidate is mentored by our state’s finest educators,” Barry Landry, director of public affairs for the state Department of Education, said in an email.
“Aspiring educators need more time in schools teaching our kids, learning the craft through extensive practice and mentoring,” he said.
“What’s more, graduates should be able to demonstrate a positive impact on student achievement before entering the classroom as professional educators,” Landry said.
The certification program in Ascension Parish will begin recruiting candidates this summer in time for the new school year, Pujol said.
Candidates must have a non-education bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university, have a 2.5 or higher grade-point average and be able to pass the Praxis core academic skills test for educators, according to an Ascension Parish school district news release.
Candidates will also go through an interview process.
There’s no cost for participation in the program, and those in the Teach Ascension program will be paid a starting teacher’s salary, which in Ascension Parish is approximately $43,000 a year.
All of the teachers in the Ascension Parish school district are certified, Pujol said. The grant program is a way for the district “to train pre-service teachers who will be alternatively certified in the way we do things” from the very beginning, she said.
Those in the program will learn hands-on “what our practices are, how we collaborate and what our expectations are,” Pujol said. “We’re using every avenue possible to recruit high quality people.”
Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.