College Enrollment in Louisiana at a High

Louisiana Believes posted an article expanding on the achievements of the Class of 2018. The number of Louisiana graduates seeking college enrollment has climbed to an all-time high.

The Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Board of Regents have partnered up to announce that over 25,000 high school graduates (the Class of 2018) in the public school system were enrolled into higher education right after their graduation. This is over 4,000 more than the Class of 2012, that is an increase of 23 percent.

Not only are students pursuing a higher education, they are also using their resources like TOPS to get financial help. TOPS stands for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. It is a “program of state scholarships for Louisiana residents who attend either one of the Louisiana Public Colleges and Universities, schools that are a part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System or institutions that are a part of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.”

Over half of this growth is due to the increasing amount of African-American students furthering their education after high school and seeking college enrollment. More than 2,500 more African-American students enrolled in some form of higher education than the students that graduated in 2012. Commissioner of Higher Education,  Kim Hunter Reed made a statement,  “We are delighted to applaud this good news because we know what it means for our students. In today’s rapidly changing economy a high school diploma is no longer enough.”

The statewide graduation results came in for the Class of 2018, showing that Louisiana achieved its highest cohort in its history. Not only did it show that more students were furthering their education, it also showed that the rate for students who errands “early-college credit” also rose, Even just the amount of students graduating increased. Here are other highlights of the Class of 2018:

  • The amount of students seeking college enrollment in an out-of-state school has slightly risen. 88 percent for instate and 12 percent for out-of-state. In 2017, it was 89 percent in state and 11 percent out-of-state.
  • The amount of students who enrolled in a two year program vs a four year program stayed the same. For the Class of 2018, 71 percent were enrolled in four year colleges and 29 percent were enrolled in two year programs.
  • Over twenty school systems beat the record. The top three school systems were St. James, Zachary, and West Feliciana parishes.

Here is a list of things Louisiana is doing to try and raise the college enrollment:

  • Offering students dual enrollment, helping them obtain college credits while taking courses in high school.
  • Diversified and expanded Jump Start; a program helping students adjust to the workplace and career courses.
  • It is required for students to choose if they want to complete the financial aid forms that would help fund furthering their education.
  • The state has an accountability system that measures schools to see if they equip students for furthering their education.
  • Every 11th grade student has access to the ACT. No matter their background or even their financial status.

For more education related information, click here.

Jump Start Summers-LA Education

Following a vote by The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), the Jump Start Summers program has been approved for expansion. Consequently, over 3,000 high school students will be able to utilize their summer break to earn school credits, take place in workplace-focused learning, and gain business experience, while simultaneously earning an income. For completed sessions, students receive a stipend which averages at $690. In regard to the Jump Start Summers program, John White, the State Superintendent, stated, “Workplace-based learning provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to master essential workplace skills, while making their academic school work more relevant. This is true for all students – those who are university-bound, as well as those who are career-focused.”

Jump Start Summers was created in 2017 with the intention of connecting school systems and business leaders to positively impact students and prepare them for the workforce via shadowing and internships. Along with school credits and work knowledge, participants will also develop important life skills such as communication, time-management, and the ability to efficiently work in a team – all of which are crucial for career-building. Jody Purvis, a supervisor of instruction for Livingston Parish Public Schools remarked, “The Jump Start Summers program offers our students a great opportunity to explore their interests in a career and technical education course that they may not be able to fit into their regular class schedule. Students can use these classes to advance their certifications and experience toward an industry-based diploma, or they can simply gain valuable life skills.”

During the program’s first two years, 1,792 students participated through 48 providers. Cumulatively, the finishing students earned 1,676 school credits and 1,998 business credentials. Following the vote to expand Jump Start Summers, 15 more providers were approved, bringing the number of offered programs to 166. These programs are affiliated with high-demand job areas, including drone operation, mechanical repair, business, construction, culinary arts, health care, IT, manufacturing, and hospitality. Software engineer specialist Rose Espiritu of General Electric Power maintains that “the cutting-edge skills, knowledge, and real-world experience” earned by students via the Jump Start Summers Program are pivotal to the initial entrance to these “high-demand career pathways.”

The Louisiana Department of Education released a blueprint called Jump Start 2.0 to gain public feedback. In the blueprint, the intentions of the Jump Start Summers Program are outlined. The outline affirms that Jump Start Summers will “catalyze a new era of learning.” This entails that all Jump Start Career Diploma student will graduate high school with workplace experience which will prepare them for work in high-growth industries. The blueprint also expresses the intention for Louisianans to be as familiar and fond of the Jump Start Career Diploma plan as they are with the TOPS University path. They will achieve this by “actively celebrating students and schools seeing success” from the Jump Start Summers program in its current, emerging stage. Finally, Jump Start 2.0 aspires for leaders in various communities in Louisiana to create systems that connect education and employment with no state intervention. To achieve this, regional teams supervising Jump Start Summers will increase their efficiency, and Jump Start will work to expand activities to age groups beyond the 12th grade.

Students who wish to inquire about participating in Jump Start Summers should contact the leaders of their schools for additional information on the program.

For more education related information, click here.

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.