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Southwest Teacher Preparation and Professional Development Research Partnership

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Louisiana, like many states, faces significant challenges ensuring qualified teachers for all subjects, particularly in schools serving the highest concentrations of low-income households. To address this challenge, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has launched Believe and Prepare, a statewide teacher residency program. REL Southwest is working with LDOE and other partners to provide research-based evidence on the program.


  • Examine the Louisiana Believe and Prepare program’s relationship to teacher outcomes, such as teacher retention, mobility, and effectiveness.
  • Support the continuous improvement of the Believe and Prepare program’s implementation.


Robyn Madison-Harris, Partnership Facilitator Yinmei Wan, Partnership Research Lead
Partnership Facilitator Partnership Research Lead
Robyn Madison-Harris Yinmei Wan


  • Nicole Bono, Chief of Staff, Educator Development, Louisiana Department of Education
  • Laura Boudreaux, Director of Research and Data Privacy, Louisiana Department of Education
  • Em Cooper, Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Educator Development, Louisiana Department of Education
  • Torey Hayward, Director of Teacher Leadership Development, Office of Teaching and Learning, Louisiana Department of Education
  • James Madden, Professor of Mathematics, Louisiana State University
  • Peter Sheppard, Professor and Head of the Department of Educational Curriculum and Instruction, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support

  • Training to Develop Believe and Prepare Teacher and Mentor Surveys
    The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) established the Believe and Prepare teacher residency program in 2016 to help address a long-standing teacher shortage in the state. In 2019, REL Southwest provided training to LDOE staff on developing surveys to assess teacher and mentor perceptions of the Believe and Prepare program. The goals were to assist LDOE in taking actionable steps for survey administration and analysis to gain a better understanding of program successes and challenges, program improvement priorities, and training, coaching, and research needs for educator preparation providers and local education agencies. LDOE administered the surveys to principals, teacher mentors, and teacher residents in summer 2019. In a follow-up project, REL Southwest provided coaching to assist LDOE staff in analyzing and interpreting the survey results. The projects’ long-term goals were to strengthen the delivery of evidence-based training and support for Believe and Prepare mentor teachers and to increase the number of Louisiana public school students taught by effective teachers. View archived resources.
  • Believe and Prepare Survey Data Analyses and Use Coaching
    In 2016, in response to a long-standing teacher shortage in the state, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) established the Believe and Prepare teacher residency program. In summer 2019, REL Southwest worked with LDOE to develop and pilot surveys of resident teachers, mentor teachers, and principals participating in the Believe and Prepare program. To help LDOE evaluate the results of the 2019 pilot of the Believe and Prepare surveys, REL Southwest conducted a quality review of the survey item data and a psychometric analysis of the proposed scales as part of four coaching sessions. The project had three main goals: (1) evaluate and revise items in the three Believe and Prepare survey instruments, if necessary, based on the scale validation and single-item review; (2) help LDOE plan for the 2020-21 survey administration based on LDOE pilot experiences; and (3) work with LDOE on the analysis plan for the 2020–21 survey data, including variables or links to existing data to support nonresponse bias analysis and subgroup comparisons. View archived resources.
  • Training for the Louisiana Pre-Educator Pathway Evaluation Planning
    Louisiana’s Pre-Educator Pathway initiative seeks to cultivate highly skilled educators by guiding young people, beginning in high school, on a path to becoming accomplished teachers. The initiative aims to address workforce needs related to the recruitment and retention of teachers of color while expanding Grow Your Own initiatives across Louisiana. To support these aims, REL Southwest is providing training to staff at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) on conducting an evaluation of the initiative, including building staff capacity to collect data, develop a well-designed and comprehensive evaluation plan, and prepare for and execute an evaluation study. The results of the Pre-Educator Pathway pilot evaluation will help inform LDOE efforts to improve the content and processes of the initiative as well as provide evidence about the outcomes of the program on the teacher workforce in Louisiana. The ultimate goal is to assist the state in building a diverse and highly skilled educator workforce through an expansion of Grow Your Own initiatives across Louisiana.
  • Using Geographical Information Systems to Understand Teacher Workforce Needs in Louisiana
    REL Southwest provided coaching to the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) on creating and interpreting GIS maps to visualize and understand teacher workforce needs and strengthen the teacher pipeline. The project resulted in the development of a set of GIS maps designed to increase LDOE’s understanding of the local need for appropriately certified teachers across the state and to improve the state’s ability to filter teachers into high-need areas and subjects. Ultimately, the project seeks to ensure all students in the state have access to a better prepared and more effective teacher workforce. View archived resources.

Applied Research Studies: Works in Progress

  • Outcomes of the Louisiana Believe and Prepare Educator Preparation Program
    The Louisiana Department of Education is seeking systematic evidence regarding the effects of the state’s Believe and Prepare teacher residency program. This initiative is designed to strengthen preservice teacher experiences by providing yearlong residencies under the guidance of a certified mentor teacher, emphasizing competency-based teacher preparation curricula, and setting standards for mentor development and certification. In this study, REL Southwest researchers will compare teacher and student outcomes for teacher candidates who were prepared before and after adoption of Believe and Prepare requirements. The study will include the 18 institutions of higher education that offered traditional undergraduate educator preparation programs in Louisiana in 2012/13 through 2019/20. The research team also will examine mechanisms through which the Believe and Prepare program may have influenced outcomes, including potential changes to teacher content knowledge, the school placement of early career teachers, and mentor attributes. Findings from this study will provide the Louisiana Department of Education and teacher preparation providers with evidence about whether Believe and Prepare is working as intended and more broadly, inform educators and policymakers about the benefits of teacher residencies and the types of preservice experiences encompassed in Believe and Prepare. View the Data Management Plan.


Check back soon for updates.