BATON ROUGE: The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) today approved a new Jump Start graduation pathway focused on Early Childhood Education, contributing to the Department of Education's efforts to expand the nationally recognized career and technical education program to accommodate the state's evolving workforce needs.
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 stakeholders, colleges, and school systems.
Starting in 2017-18, students who successfully complete the Early Childhood Education pathway will graduate with an Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate, which all lead teachers at publicly-funded early learning centers will be required to hold starting June 2019. The Ancillary Certificate is built on the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, a nationally recognized qualification awarded to early childhood professionals who have mastered beginning-level competencies for working with young children. As part of the Early Childhood Education pathway, students participating will have extensive opportunities to work with young children under the tutelage of experienced mentor educators.
"The addition of the Early Childhood Education pathway supports the Department's mission to unify the state's early childhood education programs, provide families access to high-quality early learning experiences for their children, and ensure every child is prepared to enter and succeed in kindergarten," said State Superintendent John White.
"Supporting the development of our youngest learners and preparing aspiring educators are BESE priorities," echoed BESE President Dr. Gary Jones. "This makes us especially excited to approve Early Childhood Education as the latest graduation pathway."
What's more, Jones added: "As Jump Start continues to expand and provide our students with more skills, industry credentials, and opportunities for success after high school, it also contributes meaningful workforce development that addresses the needs of our state."
Thousands of students in Louisiana are currently pursuing a high school diploma through one of the program's approved graduation pathways. With the addition of Early Childhood Education, Jump Start now has 48 approved pathways, and regional teams across the state are developing more to submit for approval.
Among those currently under construction is a suite of pathways focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The creation of these pathways, which will build students' skills in areas ranging from robotics to coding to mathematics, reflects the state's workforce needs.
"Louisiana Economic Development's analysis of key skills shows one clear truth: The demand for workers with sophisticated technical skills and quantitative reasoning capabilities is large and growing rapidly," said LED Secretary Don Pierson. "Workers who can communicate effectively and think critically will be valued, but without a strong foundation in STEM fields, they will not be as competitive - locally or globally - as those with the whole package. To compete, we must invest in the qualified educators and equipment and facilities that can deliver world-class STEM programs on Louisiana campuses. Smart support for STEM education is critically important for Louisiana's economic competitiveness and for our ability to deliver the best outcomes for our students."
The Department is now working with theCollege Readiness-Dual Enrollment Program at Louisiana State University on the implementation of a new hybrid Pre-Engineering certification pathway. The proposed pathway can be used as STEM college readiness electives for students pursuing a TOPS University diploma or as required career and technical education courses for students pursuing a Jump Start TOPS Tech diploma. The Pre-Engineering curriculum will follow an "early college" model, incorporating into the sequence dual-enrollment and advanced mathematics courses that could earn students college credit. LSU will offer an "LSU Pre-Engineering Certificate of Course Completion" to high school students who participate in the LSU Pre-Engineering pathway taught by approved teachers.
The Jump Start Pre-Engineering pathway will be submitted to BESE for approval at its June meeting. Other pathways, such as Computer Science, will follow.Once approved by BESE, the graduation pathways can be adapted and adopted by other Jump Start regional teams.
For more information about All Things Jump Start, click here.
For more information about the Early Childhood Education pathway, click here.