Louisiana’s Jump Start 2.0 Program

The Department of Education just released a blueprint for public feedback on the Jump Start 2.0 program. Louisiana is taking a step forward to reduce the negative connotations surrounding career and technical education and making sure those with a Career Diploma are ready to enter high-wage career sectors. In a blueprint titled Jump Start 2.0, the state is attempting to further its nationally recognized program Jump Start created in 2014.

The Jump Start program “prepares students to lead productive adult lives, capable of continuing their education after high school.” Students leave the program with a Career Diploma- signifying the students obtained industry mandated and valued credentials. With this program, students are able to leave high school with the ability to secure a high-wage or high-demand career. Jump Start is also an elective path which can be taken by students wanting to further their education.

Before the initiation of Jump Start, less than two percent of Louisiana’s students graduated with a Career Diploma. In 2018, over 90,000 students graduated high school with a Career Diploma- a drastic increase from 2014’s 17,885 students.

With the initiation of Jump Start 2.0, the program will grow even further. The blueprint signifies that:

  1. Every student that graduates with a Career Diploma will show they can succeed in the workplace- fully prepared to work in a high-wage, high-growth industry. The program will increase its workplace learning, prioritize the most valuable opportunities, and better align its 51 possible pathways to career clusters.
  2. Every state resident will know the Jump Start career path as well as the TOPS program. The program will do this by celebrating successful Jump Start graduates, launching an interactive website for students and families, and investing in further professional development for its career and technical education leaders.
  3. Community leaders will create various systems to conjoin education and employment throughout Louisiana without the state interfering. Jump Start will do this by creating new governance structures and supporting ideals that take the experience past high school graduation.

The Louisiana Department of Education released the new blueprint initiative after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) instructed the Department to assess how the Jump Start program offerings aligned with the workforce needs of the state. The Department of Education released a report which stated that while students were gaining more credentials, but not receiving the experience necessary for the high-wage, high-demand jobs available in the region. Of the top 15 industry-based credentials earned, only three were truly aligned with regional needs.

As a way to improve, the Department of Education paired with not only education leaders, but also business leaders across the state to create a more comprehensive blueprint for Jump Start 2.0. The Department then turned to state residents interested in career and technical education in Louisiana. The public feedback form closed March 15.

The Department of Education will now evaluate the feedback to improve the blueprint and share it at the April 2019 BESE meeting. All changes to the program will be carried out keeping in mind the needs and commitments of participating schools, students, and school systems. Some of the changes may be enforced as soon as the 2019-2020 school year.

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Program Launches for Teacher to Advocate for Education Initiative

The Louisiana Department of Education has developed a new program that would allow one teacher to take a year off to go around the State advocating for the education initiative of their choosing.  The teacher that will be chosen will come from nominees for Louisiana Teacher of the Year from the previous year. The fellowship was announced at the 12th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Awards Gala, and was awarded to 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year Kimberly Eckert, who will continue her efforts to recruit and train the next generation of Louisiana educators.

Eckert, who is an English teacher at Brusly High School in West Baton Rouge Parish, spent some of her time as 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year recruiting new educators and elevating the teaching profession. She will continue this work by focusing her fellowship on pioneering the national “Educators Rising” program in Louisiana. The program identifies young people, starting with high school students, interested in teaching and provides them with the information, skills and hands-on experience to become successful educators.

The fellowship is supported by a $50,000 stipend of state funding that is paid directly to the recipient’s school system. It allows the teacher to take a year-long sabbatical and may be used to help pay for their substitute, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred during the advocation period by the recipient.

“Louisiana has taken the Teacher of the Year award and turned it into a true leadership opportunity. Our winners and finalists are scholars, spokespeople, mentors,” said State Superintendent John White. “We need to be doing more to nourish and support them in realizing their leadership potential.”

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LA May Receive Millions in Education Grants

The Louisiana Board will take to the polls soon to choose whether to award more than $10 million in education grants to go towards 67 school systems across the state specifically to improve the reading and writing skills of struggling students.

The main focus of this funding is “to advance the pre-literacy, reading and writing skills of disadvantaged youth, birth through grade 12, including English learners and students with disabilities.” There were only 11 states in the US to be chosen to receive this funding and Louisiana was one of them.

According to State Superintendent John White, “Research shows the early grades are vital for later school success. The key skills students develop one year must be built upon and reinforced the next.  As we enter into the second year of this grant, we must focus our attention on ensuring our children have access to a high-quality continuum of learning that could make a difference in positive, long term achievement outcomes.”

In order to fulfill the grant requirements, if awarded each of the 67 school systems implement the following 4 policies:

  • Extend CLASS, a nationally regarded system of measures used in Louisiana’s early childhood accountability system to evaluate teacher-student interactions, into Kindergarten classrooms;
  • Collaborate with experts to review students’ writing samples to gauge their knowledge of language and conventions in grade 1;
  • Adopt classroom observation tools to measure teachers’ use of standards-aligned materials that impact student learning experiences in grades 1 and 2; and
  • Implement a new skills check-up at the end of grade 2 to provide insight on students’ mastery of literacy and numeracy.

For more details on educational grant funding in Louisiana, click here.

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High School Students Earning College Credits Up 12%

The number of public high school students earning college credits rose 12 percent over last year, the state Department of Education announced Thursday.  The increase is nearly 167 percent since 2012. The credit is called Advanced Placement (AP) and schools offer AP classes in several different subjects such as Literature, History and Psychology. Advanced Placement allows students to earn credits in 38 subjects. They do so by taking a rigorous class in high school and then a national exam. Scores from range from 1 to 5. A score of at least 3 means students can earn credit at any college in Louisiana and many nationwide. The state launched a push in 2011 to increase the number of students earning AP credit. Those who do so boost their chances for getting a state scholarship that pays for most college tuition, called the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. Schools achieving high levels of AP courses and tests get a boost in annual rankings.

Louisiana has long ranked among the lowest in the nation for students who qualify and in 2017 it finished next to last with a total of 8.5 percent of high school students got AP credit. The national average was 22.8 percent. Massachusetts was the top ranker in the nation for the second consecutive year at 32.1 percent. A total of 7,330 students in Louisiana earned the credit this year compared to 6,519 last year. Among the school districts showing notable gains was West Feliciana, where students earning qualifying scores rose 15 percent over last year. Scores for black students rose nearly 13 percent, to 884 students, including 156 more in the East Baton Rouge Parish School District. Dutchtown High School in Ascension Parish led the state in one-year growth 328 students, up 69 percent and up 57 percent for the district. Students can also get  costs of the test reimbursed by the state.

Not only are these courses helping students earn college credits but they are also saving them money.  A report says students and families save $310 for each college credit earned in high school but once adding in the cost of books and other course-related fees, that amount could be significantly more.  Not to mention student loan interest that student won’t be paying later, essentially saving them from large amount of debt. Check out this site for more information on Advanced Placement courses.

Fletcher Tech Students Land Jobs

All 13 of Fletcher Tech Community College’s graduates in the cardiopulmonary program have landed jobs before they even officially finished the program.  They have finished their courses at this point but still have a pinning ceremony this week to commemorate the completion of the program and transition to the workforce.  The 2 year program has been located at Fletcher since 2010 and is very fast paced.  It prepares students to treat patients of every age that have been diagnosed with severe and chronic cardiopulmonary conditions.  These patients may have underdeveloped lungs and/or lung disease. Students learn to help patients on mechanical ventilation with oxygenation, ventilation and airway management to maintain life support.

Chancellor Kristine Strickland said, “A true testament to the achievements of these students and the quality of the program at Fletcher is indicated by the 100 percent placement rate of our students.  Fletcher recognizes that our work is aligned with the needs of our business and industry partners and we are pleased that so many organizations have recognized the quality of our graduates and offered them positions.  We wish our students the best of luck as they begin their new careers in healthcare.”  For more on this story, click here.

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Number of Louisiana Graduates Entering College Each Fall Increases

The Louisiana Department of Education has recently announced that the number of graduates entering college between college each fall has increased 15 percent between 2012 and 2017. As stated on the website, “The results announced today follow the release of the statewide graduation results for the Class of 2017.

Those results showed a jump in the overall graduation rate, as well as in the rate at which students earn early-college credit or state-approved industry-valued career credentials, the number of graduates qualifying for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarship, and the number of seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.”

For more information on this exciting news for Louisiana, please click here.