Aug 13, 2019

New Pathways Include Pre-Pharmacy, Biomedical Sciences, Computing, and Cyber Security

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana high school students will soon have more options to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, to help them succeed following graduation, all while earning career credentials and transferable course credit at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Xavier University, as the result of four new Jump Start pathways. Of the four pathways, one was approved by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in June, and the remaining three earned approval from a BESE committee today and are expected to be green-lit by the full board at its regular meeting tomorrow.

Jump Start is Louisiana's premier career and technical education program that prepares students to lead productive adult lives in high-wage, high-demand sectors. A Jump Start STEM pathway is comprised of Carnegie credits of STEM-focused career and technical education courses leading to statewide credentials. Students complete the pathways to graduate with a Jump Start TOPS Tech diploma or to enhance their TOPS University diploma.

The new pathways, which provide options for students pursuing either diploma, include:

  • Xavier University Pre-Pharmacy: Approved by BESE in June, the Pre-Pharmacy STEM pathway is a blended curriculum of natural sciences and industry practice, and instruction prepares students to compete in the 21st Century through exposure to the fundamentals of pharmacy in the classroom and career experience rooted in the development of key skills, knowledge, and behaviors conducive to success in the workplace.
  • LSU Biomedical Sciences: The LSU Biomedical Science Certification Pathway immerses students in the rapidly advancing world of biomedicine. Students are exposed to the myriad of careers in biomedicine focusing on the health of both animals and humans. The pathway is designed to cultivate the skills and knowledge necessary to support student success on a pre-med track or pursuit of a science-related major in college.
  • LSU Computing: The LSU Computing Certification Pathway provides a computer science, computational thinking, and computational science program. Through hands on projects, the curriculum prepares students to compete in the 21st century job market by engaging in understanding the fundamentals of computing.
  • National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC) Cyber Security: The Cyber Security Pathway allows students to engage in a program of study that combines computer science, engineering, and mathematics through hands-on projects and interaction with industry professionals. Students will debate the complexities of privacy and security when interacting with an increasing digital presence, and will discuss the ethics of advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence while considering the value of true autonomous devices. In a quest to design and iterate better devices, students will build complex systems capable of multiple sensory inputs and advanced logic structures. Pathway coursework prepares students to compete in the 21st Century by immersion in the fundamentals of cyber security as well as the impact and application in the workplace.

In addition to college and career credentials, students who complete each pathway will be awarded a special STEM endorsement on their high school diplomas. 

"Careers in the fields of STEM are among the fastest growing in the state and in the nation, and more than half of Louisiana students are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields. However, only 10 percent meet the benchmark demonstrating their readiness for math and science coursework in college," said State Superintendent John White, citing a 2017 report by ACT. "Louisiana is working to change this by ensuring students have exposure to a variety of STEM coursework and credentials. The four new pathways will help further our progress toward that goal."

The new Jump Start pathways were developed by regional teams over the course of the last year and submitted to the Jump Start Graduation Pathway Review Panel this spring. The panel, which consists of members from Louisiana Economic Development (LED), the Louisiana Workforce Commission, and the Louisiana Department of Education, collaborated with the regional teams to ensure that each pathway course and credential is relevant and that educators have the appropriate tools to guide implementation. Upon final BESE approval, the graduation pathways can be adapted and adopted by Jump Start regional teams across the state.

"At LED, we recognize the importance of a highly-skilled STEM workforce for creating a vibrant, diverse economy that provides opportunities for all our citizens," said LED Director of Workforce Initiatives Susana Schowen. "If we're going to address poverty and diversity in Louisiana, one of the most powerful tools we have is the educational system, but we need to make sure it serves everyone. That means offering every student in our state the kind of rigorous preparation for success in the job market that these pathways represent. As a member of the Jump Start Graduation Pathway Review Panel and as the Co-Chair of the LaSTEM Advisory Council, I couldn't be more excited to support the new STEM pathways."

Among the school systems committed to offering one or more of the new Jump Start STEM pathways is St. John the Baptist Parish. 

"The Xavier University Pre-Pharmacy Pathway being implemented at the St. John the Baptist Parish STEM Magnet High School Program will be the third pathway for our students," said Principal Glenn Chenier. "The Pre-Pharmacy Pathway will provide our STEM students with unique high school learning experiences, graduation diploma seals, and postsecondary career opportunities."

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