COURSE CHOICE BRINGS INNOVATION TO EDUCATION

Aug 21, 2012

An array of innovative courses, including some from non-traditional providers, is among the first applications for Course Choicereceived by the Louisiana Department of Education.  The application period is off to a fast start with the Department receiving 24 applications from a wide variety of potential course providers in the first 24 hours.  The program, established earlier this year in Act 2, creates an education marketplace where parents can choose from a diverse range of academic and career-oriented courses that will best prepare their child for success in college and the workplace.  Believing students can achieve high expectations for learning and empowering parents with the tools to ensure their child’s success are the principles of Louisiana Believes, the state’s plan for continued improvement.

"Course Choice is revolutionizing the way we prepare kids for college and careers," said John White, State Superintendent of Education.  "We are working with universities and technical colleges, Louisiana businesses and virtual education providers to create new, high-quality courses aligned to what’s expected in college and 21st century jobs.  The courses will  not only be rigorous, but also relevant to the world students will enter when they graduate from high school."

One of the first applicants, Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. (ABC), is offering a course that provides students with hands-on experience in learning a craft such as carpentry, welding and pipefitting.  Preparing students in school with these marketable skills will ensure they are ready to begin a high-wage career immediately after earning a high school diploma.

"ABC submitted our Course Choice application on Day 1 because we believe this will be a great way for ABC to help Louisiana kids secure high-paying jobs," said Robert Clouatre, the Director of Education at the local chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc.  "ABC serves Louisiana industry by training craftspeople in the skills and the safety behaviors they need to be great employees.  The growth of Louisiana’s economy depends on our state teaching our children to hold these great jobs.  With Course Choice, students can choose to use their school funding to learn hands-on skills that will help them build productive, high-paying careers.  That’s exactly what we want to see them achieve.  Nothing is more rewarding to the people at ABC - and the many companies we serve - than helping Louisiana kids gain the skills they need to fill Louisiana jobs."

The St. James Career and Technology Center is also applying to be a course provider.  In addition to a state-of-the-art culinary facility where students experience first-hand what it takes to manage a kitchen in a bustling restaurant, the district is excited about other students it will be able to serve.

"We are enthusiastic about being able to train students from surrounding schools.  Our cosmetology program has several students from two other districts working toward a state cosmetology license," said Dr. Lonnie Luce, St. James Parish Superintendent of Schools.  "The district process technology program, in partnership with the technical college, has provided our students an opportunity to enter industry jobs with the skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century.  We’ve always had the ability to serve more students.  Course Choice gives more students the choice to use their school funding to learn new, marketable skills and set themselves up for tremendous future success."

Potential providers have until October 12 to submit an application for consideration to become an approved course provider for Course Choice.  After reviewing applications and conducting interviews, the Louisiana Department of Education will submit recommendations for final approval to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in December.  A catalog of courses to be offered starting in the 2013-2014 school year will be published in January 2013.  Enrollment for these courses begins in the spring 2013, with courses starting in the fall 2013.    

Questions about the Course Choice program can be directed to Coursechoice@la.gov.

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