“Course Choice is making education more rigorous and more relevant to life after high school,” State Superintendent John White said. “Students in the 21st century should not be limited to the education offered within their school buildings. Course Choice provides courses based on the needs of Louisiana’s economy and workforce. That means students will gain knowledge and skills to compete for college degrees or high wage jobs after graduation.”
Course Choice, established earlier this year in Act 2 of the legislative session, is an innovative education system that will allow families to choose the academic and career-oriented courses that will best prepare their child for college or career. It’s a leading initiative within Louisiana Believes, the state’s comprehensive plan to put every child on a path to college or career.
“Our members have been working hard to address current and future workforce development needs and asked us to help high school students transition successfully into the workforce,” William Dufrene, Senior Vice President of the Alliance Safety Council, said. “The LDOE, although very demanding in their requirements, helped us throughout the application process to frame a course that focuses on quality student outcomes.”
Course Choice will offer a diverse mix of college-preparatory and career training courses. The second round of review, to start immediately, will further evaluate applications from 72 providers. Of these 72 providers, 29 indicated they would provide Advanced Placement courses, 29 for Career and Technical Education courses, 20 applications for Industry-based Certification, 17 applications for dual enrollment and 12 internships and apprenticeships.
“From what we understand about the Course Choice Program, it’s needed in Louisiana to help prepare more students for the workforce of tomorrow. Students will be challenged with new courses that can prepare them for productive 21st Century careers,” Roland Toups, Chairman and CEO of Turner Industries, said.
The second round of evaluation includes a background check, a more rigorous review of each applicant’s course offerings, interviews by a panel of Department content experts and follow-up due diligence. Applicants designated to proceed after the Interview process will face a third evaluation round by a panel of independent experts.
“The process of submitting an application for Course Choice has been refreshing so far,” Lonnie Luce, Superintendent of St. James Parish Schools, said. “We submitted the application that is not heavily bureaucratic, but focuses on the main ingredients of good courses. We received constructive feedback that we believe will make our courses stronger. We look forward to the interview process that will further refine our courses.”
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will authorize Course Choice providers for three-year terms, reauthorizing only those that demonstrate high levels of student achievement.
“BESE has a long tradition of both encouraging innovation and strong accountability,” BESE President Penny Dastugue said. “We look forward to applying our experience in authorizing these entrepreneurs to the Course Choice system.”
As set forth in Act 2, course providers receive 50 percent of their approved tuition price when a student starts a course offering. The second 50 percent is paid when the student successfully completes the course on time. There are provisions in the statute to pay less than the remaining 50 percent if the student completes the course late. Course providers will receive no part of the second payment if a student fails to complete a course.
In December, the Department will recommend applicants to BESE, which will make final decisions on approval of courses and course providers. In January, students will be able to review the course catalogue. Starting in March, students will be able to enroll in courses for the 2013-2014 school year.