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Pathways to Graduation Success in Louisiana

Pathways to Graduation Success in Louisiana

Not every student’s academic journey will look quite the same, and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) is one of several state education agencies that gives students the option to select the graduation pathway that best fits their needs, interests, and future plans. Students can choose to pursue a pathway designed to lead them straight to workplace success or a pathway that leads them to postsecondary education, or both. And, schools receive the same accountability credit no matter which pathway students choose. In this article, we’ll explore those pathways, the benefits and successes of each, and a few changes you can expect in the future.

Pathway #1: Success in a Louisiana Workplace – Jump Start TOPS Tech Career Diploma

The Jump Start pathway focuses on career and technical education (CTE), requiring students to earn an industry-based credential as a part of the graduation requirements. The program launched in 2014 and has really taken off since then. According to the LDOE, “Prior to Jump Start, fewer than two percent of students graduated with a Career Diploma. Today, more than one in five students graduate with a Career Diploma.” Additionally, the number of industry-based credentials garnered by Louisiana students has jumped from 17,885 to 90,000 in the past four years.

Along with the successes of the program, there are opportunities to revisit the current implementation and make improvements. Although students have earned industry-based credentials through Jump Start, the LDOE also recognizes that these credentials aren’t always the ones students need for full-time employment.

“Of the 8,736 students who graduated with a Jump Start career diploma in 2018, only 61 percent graduated with a statewide credential. Almost two-fifths graduated with only regional credentials, potentially limiting their employment opportunities after graduation,” according to the LDOE.

The LDOE wants to address these challenges with Jump Start 2.0. The Jump Start 2.0 blueprint was recently released, and with updates the program plans to ensure that:

  • Every Jump Start Career Diploma student graduates having demonstrated success in the workplace, preparing them to work in a high-wage, high-growth industry.
  • Every Louisianan knows and values the jump Start Career Diploma path as fluently as the TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) University path.
  • Community leaders create systems that bridge education and employment, without state intervention, throughout Louisiana.

Now that the window for public feedback on the Jump Start 2.0 has closed, the LDOE will be publicly sharing updates at the April 2019 Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting.

Pathway #2: Success in Postsecondary Education – TOPS University Diploma

The college preparation pathway has historically been the more traditional path for students to take toward graduation. Students who complete this path should graduate prepared for college and will receive a TOPS University Diploma, also known as a college diploma. In addition to the rigorous course requirements, the LDOE also provides multiple opportunities for students to earn college credit while still in high school, which saves students time and money and increases the likelihood of college graduation. These programs include Advanced Placement® (AP®), International Baccalaureate® (IB®), College Level Examination Program® (CLEP®), and dual enrollment.

Early college credit opportunities are more accessible to students than ever before in the state of Louisiana. During the 2015–16 school year, 2,822 CLEP test takers earned a qualifying score of 50 or above. During the 2017–18 school year, students passed 5,346 CLEP tests. That’s a 90 percent increase over three school years, earning students over 16,000 college credit hours and saving Louisiana students and families approximately $4 million in college tuition.

Like CLEP exams, the total number of AP tests taken and passed in Louisiana also continues to grow. During the 2011–12 school year, 4,112 AP test takers received a qualifying score of 3 or above. During the 2017–18 year, that number grew to 10,926, a 166% increase. With those nearly 11,000 passing tests, Louisiana students earned an estimated 32,778 college credit hours, saving students and families approximately $10 million in college tuition.

Louisiana has truly taken earning early college credit to the next level, and the numbers show it. With the right resources and partnerships, these early college credit opportunities can help Louisiana students be even more successful than before.

Partnering with Edmentum

To continue growing these programs and to ensure the ability to provide options for every student’s unique ambitions, consider a partnership with Edmentum. We’re an approved Louisiana Supplemental Course Academy (SCA) provider, and we offer high-quality digital curricula and virtual courses taught by Louisiana-certified teachers.

Edmentum can support these Louisiana pathways by providing hundreds of quality courses to choose from, including CTE, AP, and even exam prep for ACT® and WorkKeys® assessments.

Interested in forming a partnership? Learn more about our digital curriculum and virtual learning options—including all of the available courses we offer in the state of Louisiana!