May 22, 2019

Nearly 5,000 More Graduates Enrolled in Two- and Four-Year Colleges in 2018 than in 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Education, in partnership with the Louisiana Board of Regents, today announced a record 25,083 public high school graduates from the Class of 2018 enrolled in college in the fall immediately following graduation, an increase of 1,566 over the Class of 2017 and an increase of 4,626 over the Class of 2012. The number of graduates attending higher education after graduating from high school has increased by 23 percent since 2012.

More than half of the growth is due to African-American students pursuing education and training after high school. Nearly 2,500 more African-American graduates from the Class of 2018 enrolled in higher education than did from the Class of 2012.

The results announced today follow the release of the statewide graduation results for the Class of 2018, the highest achieving cohort in the state’s history. Those results showed an increase 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 Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS, scholarships, and the number of seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

“Louisiana is one of just four states in the nation that has aligned requirements to receive a high school diploma with admissions eligibility for the state public university system,” said State Superintendent John White, citing a report by the Center for American Progress. “We are proud to partner with the Louisiana Board of Regents to announce the results of that alignment. Not only are more students achieving eligibility for TOPS awards, they are applying those awards to their postsecondary pursuits and positioning themselves for lifelong success.”

“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,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “Louisiana’s citizens need a credential of value to participate and prosper in the workforce. Regents is energized by our collaborative work to blur the lines between high school, higher education and the workforce so that today’s students can seamlessly access the knowledge and skills they need to thrive. This is how we move from poverty to prosperity in Louisiana.”

Class of 2018 College Enrollment Highlights

The number of graduates enrolled in the Fall semester immediately following  graduation, known as the number of first-time freshmen (FTF), has increased over time, just as the number of students graduating high school in four years has climbed.

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2017-2018 2012-2018
#FTF 20,457 21,744 22,972 22,188 22,860 23,517 25,083 +1,566 +4,626
#Grad 36,705 37,655 38,785 38,244 40,031 40,735 43,707 +2,972 +7,002

Among the other highlights of the college-bound graduates from the Class of 2018:

  • The number of historically disadvantaged graduates enrolling in college has significantly increased over time. Over 2,500 more students of color, nearly 5,000 more economically disadvantaged students, and 400 more students with disabilities enrolled in college in 2018 than did in 2012.
  • The proportion of graduates enrolling in two- versus four-year colleges has remained steady. The percent of college-going graduates in two- and four-year colleges in 2018 has remained steady from the previous year and since 2012. In 2018, 29 percent of college-bound graduates enrolled in two-year colleges, and 71 percent enrolled in four-year colleges.
  • The percentage of graduates enrolling in out-of-state colleges has inched upward. In 2018, 88 percent of high school graduates enrolled in an in-state college, while 12 percent enrolled in an out-of-state college. That’s a slight increase from 2017, when the percentages were 89 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
  • Twenty-two school systems exceeded the state’s average graduation rate and college enrollment rate in 2018. The top three school systems to do this with the highest college enrollment rates are Zachary, West Feliciana, and St. James parishes–all of which topped 68 percent.

View all data in the “High School Performance” library on the Department’s website.

To support the rise in college enrollment, Louisiana has:

  • Implemented higher academic standards, comparable with states across the country;
  • Provided access to the ACT to all 11th grade students, regardless of background or income;
  • Offered students the opportunity to earn college credit by taking rigorous coursework through dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate and by participating in the College Level Examination Program;
  • Expanded and diversified Jump Start, the state’s career and technical education program, to provide career courses and workplace experiences to high school students;
  • Measured how well schools equip students for postsecondary success through the state’s accountability system; and
  • Required students to choose whether or not to complete financial aid forms to fund their postsecon
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May 15, 2019

Graduation Rate, College and Career Credential Attainment, TOPS Eligibility Reach All-Time High

BATON ROUGE, La. — More Louisiana students than ever before graduated from high school in four years in 2018, according to results released today by the state’s Department of Education. More graduates than ever before also achieved college credits and highly valued industry credentials, and earned Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarships, making the Class of 2018 the highest achieving in state history.

  • Graduation Rate: The state’s high school cohort graduation rate increased from 78.2 percent in 2017 to 81.4 percent in 2018. The graduation rate has improved 9.1 percentage points since 2012, a faster pace over time than the national growth of only 4.6 percentage points. Louisiana graduated 40,124 students last year, up from 39,395 in 2017 and 35,332 in 2012.
  • College and Career Credentials: The number of graduates earning early college credit and industry career credentials valued in high-wage industries climbed since the previous year, from 23,932 to 24,835. The number of graduates earning such credits and credentials has climbed by 6,385 since 2013. The percent of Louisiana’s graduation cohort earning college and career credentials increased from 47.5 percent in 2017 to 50.4 percent in 2018, and the credential rate has improved by 12.9 percentage points since 2013.
  • TOPS Eligibility: The Class of 2018 saw growth in the number of students who were eligible for TOPS scholarships. Whereas in 2012, 16,289 students were eligible for a TOPS award, in 2018, 21,280 students were eligible for the award, a 31 percent increase.

These record-breaking gains come on the heels of nationally-recognized efforts in Louisiana to strengthen accountability standards and diploma requirements; expand the Jump Start program; support opportunities for students to earn postsecondary credits in high school through programs like dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and International Baccalaureate; align coursework with college admissions and TOPS requirements; and encourage financial aid planning.
“The positive results announced today reflect many years of relentless focus in our schools, and more progress is on the horizon,” said State Superintendent John White. “As we celebrate extraordinary increases in high school graduation, postsecondary credentials, and TOPS, let us re-commit ourselves to assuring a path to what comes next for every graduate.”

Other highlights from the Class of 2018:

  • Louisiana’s African-American graduation rate is, for the first time, higher than the national average. More than 78 percent of African-American students graduated in this cohort, up from 72.9 percent in 2017 and nearly 66 percent in 2013. The latest average national graduation rate is 77.8 percent.
  • Historically disadvantaged student groups are narrowing the graduation achievement gap with their peers. Nearly 76 percent of economically disadvantaged students graduated in this cohort, up from about 73 percent in 2017 and nearly 68 percent in 2013. Nearly 60 percent of students with disabilities graduated in this cohort, up from 52.6 percent in 2017 and less than 37 percent in 2013.
  • More students than ever before earned Advanced college and career credentials. Of the students in the Class of 2018 who earned credentials, 15 percent earned Advanced credentials, such as passing an AP or CLEP test, or earning a National Center for Construction Education and Research, or NCCER, level-two credential in a craft trade. In 2013, less than 4 percent of graduates earned Advanced credentials.
  • A record number of students in the Class of 2018 submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to fund their postsecondary pursuits. Eighty-four percent of public high school seniors submitted the FAFSA by the July 1 priority deadline in 2018, an increase of 17 percentage points from the previous year. The Class of 2018 was the first to graduate under the state’s Financial Aid Access Policy. To date, about 74 percent of the Class of 2019 has completed the FAFSA. Louisiana is currently No.2 in the nation for the number of FAFSA completions.

View all data in the “High School Performance” library on the Department’s website.

Among the school systems making considerable progress is Iberville Parish, where the graduation rate was 93.7 percent in 2018, up from 86.2 percent in 2017 and 59.9 percent in 2012.

“The Iberville Parish School System is increasing the graduation rate and strength of diploma by making high school more meaningful through relevant career and college pathways for our students,” said Iberville Parish Schools Superintendent Arthur Joffrion. “A 93.7 percent graduation rate, coupled with 69 percent of our students graduating with a Basic or Advanced credential, is much to celebrate. We are proud of our students, parents, school employees and board for their diligence in ensuring students graduate from high school prepared for their chosen future whether that be college or the workforce.”

While Louisiana has made great strides in the last six years to improve graduation rates for all students, gaps still exist in the number of historically disadvantaged students graduating on time and with credentials.

Louisiana will address these gaps by:

  • identifying and supporting struggling high schools and awarding them funding to implement school redesign plans;
  • supporting high schools to serve a rapidly growing English learner population, including through the English Learner Guidebook;
  • expanding Jump Start pathways to better meet Louisiana workforce needs, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics;
  • utilizing federal funds to expand courses not otherwise available in high schools, with a focus on early college coursework and career and technical education; and
  • providing students, who are on track to graduate but not on track to participate in postsecondary college or training program, with a one-year extension to attain an associate degree, pre-apprenticeship or an advanced industry-based credential through the Louisiana Extension Academy.

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Apr 29, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White tonight released a statement regarding the commitment by Gov. John Bel Edwards to support an amendment to add $8.76 million in funding for early childhood education to the proposed FY 20 state budget. White said:

“Governor Edwards has done the right thing for our state and its children by committing to support an amendment to add $8.76 million in funding for early childhood education to the proposed state budget. These funds will preserve child care opportunities for working families who would have otherwise lost them due to expiring grants.

However, this proposed funding does not eliminate the growing waiting list, now thousands of families long, for child care services.

I continue to urge the Legislature to clear that waitlist and to invest in the “LA B to 3” plan unanimously put forth by the Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission. Our youngest learners, our working families, and our state depend on it.”

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Apr 17, 2019

BESE Approves 15 Additional Groups to Provide Summer Internships to High School Students

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted today to expand the Jump Start Summers program, affording more than 3,000 high school students the opportunity to earn academic credit, engage in workplace-based learning, and attain critical industry-based credentials, all while earning a wage, during the upcoming summer months.

“Workplace-based learning provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to master essential workplace skills, while making their academic school work more relevant,” said State Superintendent John White. “This is true for all students–those who are university-bound, as well as those who are career-focused.”

Launched in 2017, Jump Start Summers brings together school system and industry leaders to provide students with the opportunity to complete paid, on-site job shadowing and internships. Students who participate in the program earn academic credits and industry-based credentials, and receive a stipend for the sessions they successfully complete. They also build soft skills, like the ability to communicate, manage time, or work with a team, that are essential in the workplace.

In the summer program’s first two years, 48 providers enrolled 1,792 students. Students who completed their programs earned a collective 1,676 academic credits and 1,998 industry-based credentials.

Fifteen additional providers were approved today, bringing the total number of active providers to 59 and programs offered to 166. The available programs are aligned to high-demand career fields, such as drone operation, automotive repair, business, construction, culinary arts, health care, information technology, manufacturing, and hospitality, tourism and retail. The average stipend amount will be $690.

See a list of all 2019 Jump Start Summers opportunities.

Students interested in participating in Jump Start Summers programs can contact their school leaders for more information about how to sign up to participate in a local program.

“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,” said Jody Purvis, who oversees instruction for Livingston Parish Public Schools. “Students can use these classes to advance their certifications and experience toward an industry-based diploma, or they can simply gain valuable life skills.”

Rose Espiritu, a software engineer specialist at General Electric Power agreed: “The Jump Start Summers program opens up access to high-demand career pathways, like software development, to students across Louisiana by introducing them to the cutting-edge skills, knowledge, and real-world experience that employers are looking for.”

The expansion of Jump Start Summers comes as education and industry leaders explore the evolution of the state’s Jump Start program. The Louisiana Department of Education recently released for public comment a blueprint, Jump Start 2.0, that outlines the future of the premier career and technical education program. BESE also today received an update on those plans.

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Apr 16, 2019

Funds Will Support Plans to Strengthen Daily Instruction, Expand Professional Development Opportunities, Improve Behavioral Intervention in 2019-2020

BATON ROUGE, La. — A committee of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) today approved about $40 million to improve nearly 500 struggling schools among 112 school systems across the state. The competitive allocations, which will be voted on by the full board on Wednesday, will support schools as they implement their state-approved, evidence-based strategies for improvement during the 2019-2020 school year. The strongest plans focus on enhancing daily instruction, expanding professional development opportunities for all educators, and improving behavioral intervention practices.

“Schools, like any organization, achieve success when they have thoughtful plans of improvement and when staff are unified in their understanding and embrace those plans,” said State Superintendent John White. “We commend our schools for the focused plans they have put forth. Now it’s time to implement.”

Louisiana’s Process for Improving Struggling Schools
As required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Louisiana annually identifies struggling schools, awards competitive dollars to school systems that have strong evidence-based plans for improvement, and supports the implementation of those plans.

Louisiana identifies and labels struggling schools in three ways:

  • Comprehensive Intervention Required: consistently low overall performance and/or graduation rates;
  • Urgent Intervention Required-Academics: consistently low performance among certain groups of students; and
  • Urgent Intervention Required-Discipline: chronic issues with student behavior.

Schools that meet these criteria are required to identify strategies for improvement as part of the state’s newly improved, annual school system planning process. The Louisiana Department of Education reviews the improvement strategies submitted by school systems, and ultimately approves or rejects them based on whether they meet the state’s criteria. The Department also recommends to BESE how much competitive funding each plan should receive.

Over time, the Department supports the implementation of each approved plan and monitors its progress.

School Improvement in 2019-2020
In 2018, 276 schools were identified as in need of comprehensive improvement, 180 schools were identified as in need of urgent intervention due to challenges with specific groups of students, and 44 were identified as in need of urgent intervention due to higher than average discipline rates. See the list of struggling schools.

Each school system that was required to submit a plan for their schools did so. Of the 456 total plans submitted by schools flagged for academic performance, 431 were approved and funded. Of the 44 total plans submitted by schools flagged for discipline, 37 plans were approved and funded. See the list of allocations.

Among the highlights of the plans for 2019-2020:

  • Approved plans seek to increase school-based capacity by growing the Content Leader and Mentor Teacher cadres. Content Leaders are local educators who have the knowledge, skills, and concrete resources to provide content- and curriculum-specific professional development to new and current teachers in their school system. Mentor Teachers are local educators who have the knowledge and skills to effectively coach and support new teachers and aspiring teachers who are completing their yearlong, classroom-based residencies. Both roles are an important step in the leadership pipeline for talented local educators.
  • Approved plans provide increased support for school principals. Leaders of academically struggling schools will participate in the state’s Principal Fellowship Program, a yearlong leadership development program for principals and assistant principals at any stage of their career.  In addition, the state will award stipends for school principals to travel to and participate in a special track of sessions at the 2019 Teacher Leader Summit this summer.
  • Approved plans embrace a multi-tiered system of support and response for student behavior. As part of Louisiana’s effort to renew its approach to student discipline, school systems statewide are supporting the implementation of evidence-based strategies that promote healthy school climate, utilize a tiered system of behavioral interventions, and adopt social-emotional learning curricula to support individual student growth.
  • Twenty-three of the approved plans came from academically struggling high schools that participated in the Louisiana High School Redesign Cohort. The cohort was a network of 29 schools across the state selected to work together and with experts from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education to rethink the core components of their high school design.

The Department will support school systems and schools with implementation of their plans starting at the annual Teacher Leader Summit where various sessions will be closely aligned to the key strategies outlined in the approved plans. The Summit will take place June 26-28 in New Orleans.

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