Jan 29, 2019

Attendees Discuss Next Phase of State's Premier Career and Technical Education Program

BATON ROUGE, La. --  Nearly 1,400 Louisiana education and industry leaders today gathered at the 5th Annual Jump Start Convention, held at the Raising Cane's River Center, to reflect on the progress of the state's premier career and technical education program, to build knowledge and share resources, and to strategize for the future. The event's theme was "Stronger Pathways, Stronger Credentials, Stronger Futures."

Launched in 2014, Jump Start is Louisiana's innovative career and technical education (CTE) program. 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. Jump Start is an elective path for students pursuing a university-preparatory diploma.

Prior to Jump Start, fewer than 2 percent of students graduated with a career diploma. Today, more than one in five students graduate with a career diploma and Jump Start credentials. Similarly, the number of industry-based credentials attained by Louisiana's students has tripled since Jump Start was introduced, even as the vetting of those credentials has increased.

"Jump Start has fundamentally changed the opportunities available to young people in Louisiana," said State Superintendent John White, who provided the keynote address. "However, it remains the case that too often those credentials are not translating into full-time employment after high school. 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."

At the day-long event, attendees lauded recent milestones. Among the highlights, in 2018:

  • Local education and business leaders across the state partnered to expand the Jump Start Summers program, which enabled about 1,500 students, including those with disabilities, to receive paid, on-the-job career and technical training during the summer months. Participating students earned an average stipend of $662 and more than 1,300 academic credits and 1,500 industry-based credentials.
  • Select schools began piloting Quest for Success, a new innovative 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. The course, which will replace the Journey to Careers course, was designed by the 22 educators who participated in the Louisiana Educator Voice Fellowship.
  • The state launched the CTE Leadership Academy, a 13-month training program to develop cutting-edge CTE leadership skills to maximize student success to high quality pathways and workplace-based learning linked to state and regional workforce needs. Thirty-two current and aspiring CTE leaders participated in the inaugural leadership class.

Attendees also looked to the future. They participated 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; further expand Jump Start Summers opportunities for students; scale Quest for Success statewide; and select a second class of aspiring and current CTE leaders to attend the CTE Leadership Academy.

In addition, attendees participated in breakout sessions aligned to the event's theme and engaged with students and schools participating in the Galleria Walk, a showcase of success stories.

"It's an exciting time to be part of public education in Louisiana," said Rob Howle, principal at Lee Magnet High School who has been involved in the development of Quest for Success and the roll out of the Jump Start Pre-Engineering Career Pathway. "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."

"Jump Start has tipped off a new direction in high school education by driving close connections between schools and businesses. This new direction has gotten both groups out of their silos to share expertise and information and motivated them to partner in noticeable and innovative ways," said Liz Smith, Senior Vice President for Economic Competitiveness for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. "Jump Start requires economic relevance in career training, which means students earn truly valuable skills and businesses access new talent pools. That's a healthy and exciting injection for our area economies."

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