Jun 11, 2020

23 Students in Class of 2020 Complete Rigorous STEM Coursework, Earn Diploma Endorsement

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Among the high school graduates now participating in innovative commencement ceremonies across the state is the first cohort of students to successfully complete rigorous coursework designed to prepare them to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career fields. The inaugural group, which includes 23 students, will earn a special endorsement on their diploma to mark the accomplishment.

See a list of Louisiana STEM Pathway graduates by school.

"The Louisiana Department of Education applauds these students for being the first in the state to complete challenging sequences of STEM coursework and graduate with a diploma endorsement," said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. "These students have shown they are ready to fill critical workforce needs in STEM career sectors. They are tomorrow's computer programmers, process technicians, researchers, and medical professionals."

Launched in 2016, Louisiana STEM Pathways are part of Jump Start, Louisiana's innovative career and technical education program. The STEM Pathways better prepare students to seek a STEM degree in college or enter the workforce having earned certifications in high-wage career sectors. STEM Pathways are designed for students seeking either a TOPS Tech Diploma or University Diploma, and they include biomedical, computing, cyber security, digital design and emergent media, pre-engineering, and pre-pharmacy. 

As of the 2019-2020 school year, more than 4,000 students among 81 schools are enrolled in these pathways, and more continue to join each school year. 

Students completing four core courses in a pathway are recognized with a silver endorsement on their diploma. Students who go beyond the core coursework to also complete four optional courses are recognized with a gold endorsement on their diploma. Of the 23 graduates this year, 15 received silver and eight received gold. 

Learn more about the diploma endorsements.

"Over the next decade, Louisiana and the nation will see a surge in the number of job opportunities available in STEM fields," said Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell), who sponsored the bill to create the STEM seal for high school students, along with the state's LaSTEM Advisory Council. "The Louisiana STEM Pathways represent one step forward in the state's effort to better meet those workforce demands. We must continue to expand the program, as well as ensure students have exposure to STEM courses and credentials starting in elementary school and continued through college."

"A 2018 report by ACT showed 51 percent of Louisiana students indicated having an interest in STEM majors and careers, but only 10 percent met the STEM benchmark demonstrating their readiness for math and science coursework in college," said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed, who chairs the LaSTEM Advisory Council. "By exposing our students to this coursework earlier in their education, we can position them for success in college and beyond and position our state for economic prosperity."

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