Oct 11, 2018

Diploma Endorsements Part of State's Broader Push to Boost STEM Education, Career Preparation

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana students who successfully complete sequences of coursework in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) may soon be eligible to receive special endorsements on their high school diplomas. The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will vote on the STEM diploma endorsement options at its October meeting.

"More than half of Louisiana students are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields, but only 10 percent meet the benchmark demonstrating their readiness for math and science coursework in college," said State Superintendent John White, citing a recent report. "Louisiana is working to change this by ensuring students have exposure to STEM coursework and credentials starting in the early grades and continuing through college. The new diploma endorsements not only serve as an incentive for students to engage in these fields of study, but also as a reward for doing so."

The diploma endorsements, if approved, will be effective immediately and include two options:
  • A silver seal on the diploma that indicates a student has successfully completed a subset of required courses within a BESE-approved Jump Start STEM pathway.
  • A gold seal on the diploma that indicates a student has successfully completed all courses that comprise a BESE-approved Jump Start STEM pathway. 
The Louisiana Department of Education will annually publish on its website a list of courses required for the STEM endorsement for each graduating class prior to the beginning of each school year and will notify each school system of any additions or revisions. The required courses for the 2018-2019 school year are now available.

"The STEM diploma endorsement is another stackable credential that allows our students in Louisiana to be more competitive in the workforce," said BESE Member Jada Lewis. "It also complements and aligns with our strategic priorities around developing credentials for students on a path to college or a career."

The endorsements are part of the state's broader push to boost STEM education and career preparation. In 2017, the Louisiana Legislature established the LaSTEM Advisory Council to increase the number of students, particularly women, pursuing careers in engineering, cybertechnology, digital media and other high-demand fields to satisfy the state's workforce needs. The Council, in part, was charged with establishing diploma endorsements to recognize students who exhibit superior academic achievement in STEM discipline subjects.

"We all have a stake in ensuring our school systems, educators and students are prepared with the hard and soft skills necessary to fill 21st Century jobs. It is important to establish diploma endorsements to recognize students who successfully completed STEM-focused coursework in high school," said Melissa Mann, senior director public policy and government affairs for CenturyLink, a telecommunications company headquartered in Louisiana that is represented on the LaSTEM Advisory Council. "STEM education gives students the opportunity to experience principles of science and technology to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which translate into successful careers."

BESE's Academic Goals and Instructional Improvement Committee will vote on the diploma endorsements on Oct.16, before the item moves to the full board for approval on Oct.17. A live video stream of the meetings will be available.

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