Baton Rouge, LA — The Louisiana Department of Education announced Thursday that students on the Course Choice wait list will be enrolled in the courses of their choice and that the Course Choice Registration System will remain open through August 27 due to the continued demand for courses. Parents and students should visit louisianacoursechoice.net to request course enrollments.
Governor Bobby Jindal said, “One of the keys to successfully reforming our education system and providing children across Louisiana with the brightest future possible is empowering children and families with choice. By growing the course choice program, we are ensuring that students across our state have access to a quality education that suits their needs and allows them to achieve their dreams.”
As of August 13, 3,424 students have requested enrollment in 90 different Course Choice courses offered by 21 providers. The most popular courses are foreign language courses (Spanish 1 and 2, French 1 and 2), Algebra, Math Intervention, Biology and ACT Prep. Popular face-to-face career and technical education courses include digital arts and a variety of construction craft training courses, including heavy equipment operation, pipefitting and welding. Students from 38 parishes across the state, both rural and urban, have enrolled in Course Choice courses. The largest per parish enrollment figures are currently Orleans Parish, Jackson Parish, Claiborne Parish, City of Bogalusa, East Baton Rouge Parish, Washington Parish, Jefferson Parish, Caddo Parish and Ascension Parish.
The most popular course providers at present include:
- The Louisiana School for Math, Sciences and the Arts, the most popular course provider and previously a major course provider for the Louisiana Virtual School;
- Princeton Review (ACT review courses);
- New Orleans-based mSchool, providing in-person mathematics courses, and St. James Parish Schools, providing a broad range of academic and career courses
- National online provider SmartStart Virtual Academy; and,
- Bard Early College, offering in-person fall and spring college-level liberal arts seminars to high school juniors and seniors.
Course Choice was created during the 2012 Regular Legislative Session with the goal of offering students in C, D and F schools access to high-quality in-person and online course offerings with high levels of accountability. Students at A and B schools also could access courses not offered at their school. Providers were selected after a rigorous four-phase review process and are directly accountable for student results and course completion. The program offers students across the state a unique opportunity to enroll in face-to-face, online, and blended learning course offerings that allow students and parents to select course offerings that address each student’s unique needs and interests. These options are available at no cost to students or districts.
As a result of a recent Supreme Court decision regarding the program’s funding mechanism, Course Choice was restructured as a pilot program with high school level course offerings, funded through repurposed Department of Education and BESE funds. The program quickly reached capacity only a few weeks after the new pilot format was announced.
“After seeing the unexpected demand from students and the wait list continue to grow, day by day, it was important that the Department locate cost savings to better fund this program,” said State Superintendent John White. “These students deserve the opportunity to take the courses they need to be successful.”
The Department is able to enroll students remaining on the waitlist through additional savings achieved through two means. The first is discontinuing the administration of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) in 2nd grade, as part of the state’s transition to more rigorous academic standards. The ITBS test has not been upgraded to a level of rigor equivalent to the 2014 LEAP and iLEAP and its continuation would lower the bar for 2nd grade teachers and students this school year. The Department also has achieved savings by trimming travel and overhead expenses. Together these savings represent more than $1 million available for students choosing courses, bringing currently projected program funding to $3 million. At an average per course price projection of $800, Course Choice will serve all students requesting courses this year.
Parents and students who have questions about Course Choice or need help registering for a course can call the Course Choice Counselor Assistance Center toll-free at 877-453-2721.