Louisiana Awarded $6 Million Federal Grant to Support Teachers of Students with Disabilities

Partnership with LSU will improve literacy skills for students with special needs

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Education, in partnership with LSU, is one of seven states awarded a State Personnel Development Grant, or SPDG, from the U.S. Department of Education, or USDOE, receiving the second largest total award of $6.06 million over five years. This year's SPDG grant provides professional development opportunities to educators with a focus on improving literacy outcomes for students with disabilities in grades three through five, through data-driven decision making strategies and the effective use of evidence-based literacy practices.

"This grant will bring Louisiana's educational institutions together to better support teachers of students with disabilities at a critical time when the achievement gaps between these students and their peers is increasing," said State Superintendent John White. "Through this work, we will develop educators who have the knowledge and skills to teach all learners, and equip students with disabilities with lifelong literacy skills that will ultimately prepare them for success in college, a career and be prosperous in life."

The SPDG program, authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, provides funding to assist Louisiana in reforming and improving educator preparation programs and professional development opportunities for teachers of students with disabilities. In partnership with the Department, LSU and the Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center will deliver training and other supports to eight partner school systems to help reduce achievement gaps, specifically in reading and writing, between students with disabilities and their peers. Since 2012, the gap between students with disabilities and their peers performing at "Basic" or above on the 4th grade LEAP ELA assessments has increased 8 percentage points. Participating school systems include Algiers Charter School Association, Bossier Parish, Calcasieu Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Sabine Parish, St. Bernard Parish, Vermilion Parish, and West Baton Rouge Parish.

The grant will focus on English language arts instruction in grades three through five, to identify and address the needs of struggling readers when they are making the critical transition from learning to read to reading to learn. Each summer, participating school systems will come together for a literacy-focused professional development summit, with ongoing job-embedded professional development throughout the year to enhance educators' instructional practices and use of data to make decisions that advance instructional practices to improve student learning.

"I am pleased that the School of Education ... will be working with the Louisiana State Department of Education and the Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center to help meet the educational needs of Louisiana's teachers, principals, schools, and families and their special needs students," said Neil Mathews, director of LSU's School of Education.

The LDOE has received SPDG Program grants in three previous cycles, five years each, making this one of the Department's longest running grant programs to support teachers of students with disabilities. "Utilizing the funds that have been made available through this grant has given our parish more opportunities to enhance our educational programing for students with disabilities and provide direct modeling and instruction for teachers," said Carla Parrie, Director of Special Education of Sabine Parish Schools.

For more information on the USDOE's grant awards, click here. For more information on Louisiana's SPDG Program, click here.



Contact Mary Woods
LSU College of Human Sciences & Education


Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations