Jan 17, 2017

Third Annual Gathering Focused on Program's Full Implementation in 2017-18

BATON ROUGE, La.- The Louisiana Department of Education today hosted the Third Annual Jump Start Convention at the Raising Cane's River Center. More than 1,100 Louisiana educators and business leaders gathered to celebrate the program's successes, to date, and to strategize for classroom implementation for the 2017-18 school year.

Jump Start is the state's initiative to provide all students with basic and advanced career credentials that allow students to continue their education after high school. To achieve the Jump Start credential, students complete graduation pathways of courses and workplace-based experiences developed by Jump Start regional teams made up of industry, colleges, and school districts. Thousands of students in Louisiana are currently pursuing a high school diploma through one of 47 approved graduation pathways, and the regional teams are developing additional pathways to submit for approval.

In the last year alone, the graduation pathways have been updated to expand student opportunities, making it easier for students to change pathways as their interests evolve; the micro-enterprise credential is now rolling out statewide; and the Louisiana Workforce Commission and its regional workforce boards began working with the regional teams to integrate Jump Start responsibilities into the boards.

"We call 2017 the year of action because 2018 is the year of opportunity," said State Superintendent of Education John White in his opening address. Moving forward, "We have to take down any barrier that exists to a child getting that high value, high wage and high excitement credential. That means rural students must have access, that means students with disabilities must have access, and that means that a young man or woman who goes to a high school with one program but is interested in a program at another high school, they must have access."

As the result of a recent $2 million grant from the Council of Chief State School Officers and JPMorgan Chase & Co., White said, that is possible. The grant funds, which will be distributed over three years, will enable the program to launch 13 initiatives on a staggered schedule, starting immediately and continuing over the next several months. The initiatives seek to:

  • expand support and access in rural districts through mentor networks and targeted financial assistance;
  • ensure students with significant disabilities have access to workplace experience;
  • communicate the details and benefits of Jump Start to students and families; and
  • develop a series of Jump Start pathways relevant to university-bound students, such as entrepreneurship, pre-engineering and IT/coding, that include post-secondary courses, certificates and degrees as essential components, among other initiatives.

For a full overview, click here.

Educators like Richard Strong, superintendent of West Carroll Parish Schools, expressed excitement about the progress Jump Start has made, as well as what's to come.

"I feel the Jump Start program has been a perfect fit for the Northeast part of the state," Strong said. "Over 50 percent of our students are pursuing a Jump Start diploma. We are excited about the career possibilities our industry-credentialed and work-ready students will have in the future. We know their success depends on their ability to compete in the workforce, and we now have Jump Start to ensure that happens."

Business and industry leaders, too, praised the program's alignment with the state's economic development strategies.

"Jump Start is a key part of Louisiana's strategy to attract and retain jobs and provide our citizens with opportunities to support their families and their communities," said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson. "With input from regional business and industry representatives, the Louisiana Department of Education's Jump Start Program identifies pathways to employment in high-demand, high-wage jobs. Louisiana Economic Development recognizes the benefit of aligning education and training programs to the needs of key industries, as this strategic approach maximizes the potential for economic growth and improved access to high-quality employment opportunities for Louisianans."

In addition to hearing program updates, student testimonials and a keynote address on the value of a credential from David Guidry, the President and CEO of Guico Industries, attendees participated in breakout sessions to learn specifics about implementing Jump Start.

For a list of all sessions and their supporting documents, click here.

"After today, go back to your community, go back to your parish, go back to your school and help make Jump Start for all kids--university bound, community college bound, workforce bound," White said. "And anytime that passion ignites in a child ... please take down anything that stands in that young man or young woman's way."

#  #  #  #  #  #