School of Education, Department of English, and EBRPSS received 2016 Louisiana Systematic Initiatives Program Grant from Board of Regents


School of Education faculty, Dr. Jacqueline Bach, Dr. Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, and Dr. Sassy Wheeler, along with English Department colleague, Dr. Susan Weinstein, have received a Louisiana Systematic Initiates Program Grant from the Board of Regents.

The purpose of the grants were to fund Mathematics, ELA/Literacy, and Science K-12 teacher professional development (PD) projects. Known locally as LaSIP, the grant entitled, Writing that Works: Developing Ongoing Professional Development on Integrating the CCSS to Improve Student Writing, Grades 9 -10, was developed in partnership with East Baton Rouge Parish Schools System (EBRPSS) and was funded for $148,253.00, the amount Dr. Bach, who is Principal Investigator, and her team requested.

A total of seven grants were submitted state-wide. Four were funded and the Writing that Works grant received the highest number of points of all submissions.

“The Board of Regents has awarded a LaSIP grant to an outstanding team of talented LSU faculty members whose love of writing will have a long-term effect upon the EBRPSS English language arts teachers with whom they will be working as partners to encourage higher levels of student achievement,” said Neil Mathews, Director of the School of Education.

LSU's School of Education team brings particular expertise to the project. Bach coordinates the Secondary Holmes Program and the School of Education’s secondary English offerings; Sulentic Dowell is Director of the LSU Writing Project, housed in the School of Education, and Wheeler is an expert in differentiation. The Department of English’s faculty member, Weinstein, brings a strong research background in adolescent writing and is the advisor for the secondary English education program. 

“We are honored to collaborate with this team of experts in a united effort for continuous learning.  We look forward to quality learning experiences to not only build capacity for our staff, but to also prepare our students for college and career readiness,” said Andrea M. O'Konski, Chief of Academic Programs, East Baton Rouge Parish School System.

The grant will focus on developing teachers’ capacity in teaching academic vocabulary with potential to positively impact student learning, writing skills, and achievement across the curriculum. This ambitious writing initiative includes not only improving students’ test scores on high-stakes testing but also cultivating a love of writing in their students.

Reviewers praised the grant for its “collaboration among members from the IHE and the LEA” and its development “in response to a need identified by the LEA and the interventions proposed are based on data that suggest they will be effective in addressing the identified needs.” Furthermore, they observed that “there is a focus on developing teachers’ capacity in teaching academic vocabulary which has potential to positively impact student learning and achievement across the curriculum.”

Funded by this grant, this partnership between the School of Education and the English Department at LSU-BR will enable EBRPSS to expand existing efforts to include building capacity of instructional leaders and classroom teachers. These leaders and teachers will work with the district to create a summer institute for ninth and tenth grade English language arts teachers from eight EBRPSS schools and on-going professional development throughout the 2016-2017 school year that focuses on the standards that deal with writing and pedagogical practices in an effort to increase student performance on writing assessments.

Bach stated, “This is an exciting opportunity to work collaboratively with EBR on developing online professional development modules that they can use each year with their English language arts teachers.”


About SOE

The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction and in Educational Leadership, Research, and Counseling. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues.

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About CHSE

The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The College is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs.

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