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Course choice expands educational opportunities for students

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 12:00am

Online registration for the Louisiana Course Choice Program at www.LouisianaCourseChoice.net is now available for students across the state. Course Choice will provide students access to publicly-funded, rigorous college and career course offerings beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, expanding quality educational opportunities for families statewide. Course Choice seeks to address the fact that many Louisiana students attend college or pursue a post secondary career lacking the skills necessary to succeed. While 49 percent of young adults across the state enter four-year colleges, only 19 percent graduate. Another 15 percent earn associate degrees. This leaves two-thirds of Louisianans with no workforce credential.

"More than 50 percent of jobs in our state require an education after high school. By offering courses that prepare students for specific careers and the rigors of college, Course Choice ensures the basic rights of students to an education that meets their unique needs," said State Superintendent John White.

Currently, many students across the state are denied the ability to enroll in the high quality courses necessary for college or career preparation because they are not available at their local school. To address this need, education in the 21st century must go beyond the four walls of high school. With Course Choice, students will have the option to enroll in courses ranging from core academic studies to career and technical, fulfilling every student's basic right to an education tailored to their specific ambitions.

"Course Choice provides another opportunity for students to pursue their own paths while maintaining the rigor and quality parents expect," said Chas Roemer, president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. "Our goal is to give every student in every situation access to high-quality college- and career-ready course work. To be competitive in tomorrow's job market, students need exposure to more and diverse skills and knowledge, regardless of where they live. Course Choice is a huge step forward for Louisiana and, most importantly, our kids."

Over the past few months, 94 initial course provider applicants were narrowed to 42, including Louisiana State University, Southern University, Acadian Ambulance, and Louisiana Public Broadcasting. These providers participated in a rigorous review process by the Department to ensure quality and will be held accountable for results moving forward, specifically only receiving 50% of tuition until after a student successfully completes their courses on time. During the 2013-2014 school year, providers such as state universities, public schools, and private providers will offer a broad range of courses in over 90 locations across the state and online including:

  • AP Courses: For the first time, all Louisiana students will have access to Advanced Placement courses;
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Courses: Hands-on coursework, internships and apprenticeships in a wide array of high-demand job sectors will enable students across Louisiana to learn the skills they will need to secure 21st Century careers;
  • Core Academic Courses: Innovative programs will be available for younger students, including foreign language courses for elementary and middle school students and gifted-student programs for elementary school students;
  • Test Preparation Courses: Courses that specialize in helping students excel in high-stakes testing like the ACT and core academic "End of Course" (EOC) exams; and
  • College Credit Opportunities: Students will have access to courses at technical and community colleges across Louisiana and every four-year Louisiana public university.

These courses are available at no additional cost for Louisiana students if they attend a C, D or F public school or if they want to register for a course not offered at their A or B public school. State law establishes the maximum cost per course at approximately $1275; however, the average cost for a one credit course, such as Algebra 1 is roughly $700. CTE Courses that cost more typically provide students with multiple credits, multiple certifications like OSHA safety certifications, and equipment they can use on-the-job.

The Department has and will continue to work with counselors across the state to ensure course offerings address the needs of students and additionally, has created a Course Choice Counselor Assistance Center, available at 1-877-453-2721. This toll-free hotline provides one-on-one access to experienced, certified professional school counselors that can provide guidance for students and parents to ultimately select courses that are academically appropriate, logistically practical, and keep the student on track for an on-time graduation.

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