Number of Louisiana high school graduates with industry credentials triples


More than one in five Louisiana students now graduate from high school with a career diploma and technical education credentials, according to new statistics released by the Department of Education.

Similarly, the number of industry-based credentials attained by Louisiana’s students has tripled since an innovative career and technical education program known as Jump Start was introduced, even as the vetting of those credentials has increased.

Jump Start is a career and technical education program that was established in Louisiana in 2014 to provide students an opportunity to attain industry credentials when they graduate high school. 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. Students are required to attain industry-promulgated, industry-valued credentials aligned to one of 51 approved pathways in order to graduate with a Career Diploma.

Fewer than 2% of students graduated with a career diploma prior to Jump Start, but the education department revealed at the 5th Annual Jump Start convention in Baton Rouge last week that more than one in five students now graduate with a career diploma and Jump Start credentials.

“In 2015, 20,000 industry credentials were awarded in Louisiana. In 2018, over 60,000 industry credentials were awarded in Louisiana,” State Superintendent John White said during his keynote address at the convention. “Jump Start has fundamentally changed the opportunities available to young people in Louisiana.”

Convention participants took part in an ongoing comprehensive review of Jump Start to create a new blueprint, called Jump Start 2.0, that will set the state’s vision for the next five years, and they learned about what’s to come in 2019.

This year, Louisiana will introduce new Jump Start pathways in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields, including one in pharmacy, and further expand Jump Start Summers opportunities for students. The state will also scale Quest for Success statewide. In 2018, select schools began piloting the new course that allows middle and high school students to develop essential workplace skills, explore various careers and industry sectors, and learn about themselves and their interests in order to successfully navigate high school, post-secondary education and career pathways.

“It remains the case that too often credentials are not translating into full-time employment after high school,” White says. “It remains the case that youth unemployment remains high, and that many high school graduates do not have concrete plans for their futures following graduation. We have a great opportunity to take a look at Jump Start, and to figure out how we can better serve students who as adults will need a toehold in the economy.”

Rob Howle, principal at Lee Magnet High School, has been involved in the development of Quest for Success and the roll out of the Jump Start Pre-Engineering Career Pathway. “It’s an exciting time to be part of public education in Louisiana,” he says. “We are finally moving away from the ‘one curriculum fits all’ mentality to a blending of diverse opportunities. These are bold steps that we are taking to ensure Louisiana students will be able to compete not only nationally but globally.”