The Senior Class of 2020 has certainly had its share of challenges, but one group of 23 Louisiana seniors have completed rigorous STEM coursework, earning an impressive diploma endorsement. This news comes from a Louisiana Department of Education press release, in which the state’s first STEM cohort accomplished this admirable achievement.
State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley stated, “The Louisiana Department of Education applauds these students for being the first in the state to complete challenging sequences of STEM coursework and graduate with a diploma endorsement. “These students have shown they are ready to fill critical workforce needs in STEM career sectors. They are tomorrow’s computer programmers, process technicians, researchers, and medical professionals.”
This inaugural class of 23 Louisiana Seniors will earn a special endorsement on their diploma to mark the accomplishment of completing the rigorous STEM coursework, or coursework designed to prepare them to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math career fields.
Louisiana STEM Pathways was initially launched in 2016, and the program is a part of the Jump Start Initiative, Louisiana’s premiere, innovative career and technical education program (CTE). While Jump Start prepares students to lead productive adult lives, capable of continuing their education after high school while earning certifications in high-wage career sectors, the STEM Pathways specifically prepare students to seek a STEM degree in college or enter the workforce having earned certifications in high-wage career sectors. The program is designed for students seeking either a TOPS Tech Diploma or University Diploma, and they include biomedical, computing, cyber security, digital design and emergent media, pre-engineering, and pre-pharmacy.
Within just the 2019-2020 school year alone, more than 4,000 students among 81 Louisiana schools are enrolled in these STEM pathways, and more continue to join each year. After completing rigorous, challenging coursework, students are recognized and awarded with endorsements on their diplomas. Students completing four core courses in a single pathway are recognized with a silver endorsement, while those who go beyond the core coursework to complete four optional courses are recognized with a gold endorsement. OF this year’s crop of 23 graduated, 15 received silver and 8 eight received gold.
Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) sponsored the bill to create the STEM seal for high school students along with the state’s LaSTEM Advisory Council. Hewill stated, “Over the next decade, Louisiana and the nation will see a surge in the number of job opportunities available in STEM fields. The Louisiana STEM Pathways represent one step forward in the state’s effort to better meet those workforce demands. We must continue to expand the program, as well as ensure students have exposure to STEM courses and credentials starting in elementary school and continued through college.”
Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed, who chairs the LaSTEM Advisory Council reported, “A 2018 report by ACT showed 51 percent of Louisiana students indicated having an interest in STEM majors and careers. By exposing our students to this coursework earlier in their education, we can position them for success in college and beyond and position our state for economic prosperity.”
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