The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is moving forward with plans for a new laboratory school, where teachers in training can get experience with model education methods and area kids will benefit from the most up-to-date research on learning.
The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved UL-Lafayette's proposal for the school, which would be similar to lab schools associated with LSU, Louisiana Tech and Southern University.
Planning for UL-Lafayette's proposed lab school is still in the early stages. Yet to be determined is where the school would be located and when it might open, but UL-Lafayette College of Education Dean Nathan Roberts said area school districts and the community have embraced the concept.
"As soon as we mention it to anybody, they say, 'How can we get involved,'" Roberts said.
The idea is to create a school to showcase model teaching methods and emerging educational research for UL-Lafayette students preparing for a career in teaching.
"We need to have model classrooms for demonstration so teachers can see what it should look like," Roberts said. "We can't get the (College of Education) students the experience they need."
Kids enrolled at the school would benefit from a learning environment shaped by best practices in the teaching field and would get an early introduction to higher education, he said.
"Those kids are going to get such great exposure of what the university has to offer," Roberts said. "... There won't be a question that they're going to college, because they will feel like they're already in college."
The proposal approved by the UL System Board on Thursday calls for the school starting with K-3 students and adding additional grades each year, possibly through high school.
"We want to bring it, at the very minimum, up to K-5," Roberts said.
UL-Lafayette has proposed supporting the new school through a combination of state money and a sliding scale tuition of up to $4,500 a year. Financial aid would be offered to up to 40 percent of the student population, according to the proposal.
Roberts said the goal is draw a diverse student population that mirrors that of conventional school districts, so area educators can have faith the teaching methods modeled at the lab school are effective in their own classrooms.
"You don't want to create something that people can't replicate or don't feel like they can replicate," he said.
There is no timeline for when the school might open, but Roberts said the approval by the UL System Board on Thursday sets the stage for serious discussions on site selection, the design of the school, and the details of admissions and funding.
"We want to go as fast as we can," he said.