Louisiana: Jump Start

Louisiana’s Jump Start program was launched in 2014 to reboot and repair the state’s career diploma system, and deliberately aligns the state’s secondary Career Technical Education (CTE) strategy with its economic development work. The program centers around public-private partnerships — regional teams of K-12, postsecondary and industry representatives come together to create course pathways in demanded fields, which include related workplace experiences and are anchored in a regionally-identified and state-approved industry-recognized credential.

Since its inception, the state has approved (through a cross-agency review panel that includes the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Louisiana Economic Development and the Department of Education) 47 graduation pathways that span multiple fields, which culminates in a Career Diploma. Students who are pursuing a university-preparatory diploma are able to take Jump Start pathways as electives, meaning that students of all backgrounds and levels of academic achievement are encouraged to gain these valuable career skills.

Additionally, the state has redesigned its accountability system so that schools and students have the needed incentive to pursue this option. All state-approved industry-recognized credentials are categorized as “Advanced” or “Basic.” The majority of credentials are basic and the advanced credentials typically are only attainable after earning a basic credential.

Louisiana’s Graduation Index (worth 25 percent of a high school’s accountability rating) assigns more points for students graduating with an “Advanced” industry credential or a qualifying score on AP, IB or CLEP (150 points) than for those who graduate with a “Basic” credential  or earn college credit through AP, IB or dual enrollment (110 points) – and the most points for students who earn both an advanced credential and a qualifying score on AP, IB or CLEP (160 points). In this way, schools are rewarded for preparing their students for college and career, no matter which path the students choose, but also incentivized for their students to earn more advanced credentials.


Policy in Action
Louisiana developed a four-year implementation plan for Jump Start, which was implemented in the 2017-2018 school year. In 2014, the work on implementation began with the formation of the regional teams, who began to decide on the appropriate graduation pathways to implement. Once those pathways were chosen, districts were given two years to build their instructional capacity and ensure CTE instructors obtained the necessary credentials. Throughout implementation, the state provided guidance, resources and tools through its Louisiana Believes website, but the work at the regional and local level was driven forward by the cross-sector regional teams.


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June 2014