“Improving outcomes for all Louisiana children is important work that’s too important to do alone,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Our partnership with the Region 14 Comprehensive Center helped us engage stakeholders to understand what’s working, what’s not and where our support and investment is most needed.”
In-Depth Focus Groups Reveal Successes, Opportunities and Recommendations from Stakeholders
The COVID-19 pandemic, an active hurricane season, and civil unrest across the nation made for a challenging 2020-2021 school year for Louisiana educators, families and students. While there was no blueprint for navigating the school system through this unprecedented year, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) provided guidance and aimed to remain connected to its stakeholders. They prioritized listening and learning to evaluate and improve support during a particularly difficult school year.
To achieve this goal, the LDOE partnered with the Region 14 Comprehensive Center (Region 14 CC) to obtain and evaluate stakeholder feedback and recommendations for a strong finish to the 2020-2021 school year in Louisiana. Region 14 CC serves State Education Agencies (SEAs) in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas with stakeholder collaboration and problem solving, among other services. In partnership with the LDOE, Region 14 CC conducted an analysis of Louisiana’s experience with school closing, virtual learning and school reopening using findings from focus groups with stakeholders across the state.
“It was a true partnership between the LDOE and Region 14 CC, which made it much easier to achieve the Department’s goal,” said Donald Barfield, Project Lead, Region 14 Comprehensive Center. “Through the focus groups, Region 14 CC was able to capture Louisiana stakeholders’ pressing needs, which supported the LDOE’s ability to move and act quickly to support educators, families, students and school leaders during the pandemic.”
Region 14 CC’s findings identified several successes, opportunities and recommendations on virtual learning, learning modes transition, core academic lessons, mental health and well-being, and communications. Key findings showed that transparency and levels of trust among stakeholders was high, school systems and educators made extensive efforts to support student’s mental health and well-being personally and academically; and student engagement, attendance and truancy remained challenges in the state – among others.
Region 14 CC’s analysis allowed the LDOE to identify and respond quickly to the school systems’ needs and stakeholders in various ways. For example, the LDOE provided additional funding, developed resources such as staffing models, toolkits and additional guidance on reopening guidelines; and partnered with individuals, agencies and organizations to help supply school systems with Personal Protective Equipment and COVID-19 testing supplies. In addition, focus group feedback resulted in plans for future support for schools, including the distribution of 23,000 Chromebooks, provision of additional support for students through virtual tutoring, and funding for compensatory services to students with disabilities.
Region 14 CC provides support to help SEAs engage and facilitate connections and collaboration with key stakeholders and decision makers using data-driven analysis and procedures to ensure continuous improvements. In partnership with SEA leaders and staff, Region 14 CC supports the achievement of goals that improve states’ education systems.