Lawmakers revamp Louisiana career-track diploma

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's career-track diploma law has been rewritten to require public high school students who aren't college-bound to get job skills certifications to earn a diploma.
The bill by Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, received final passage Tuesday with a 98-0 House vote agreeing to minor Senate changes. It heads next to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who supported it as a way to better align Louisiana's educational training to its workforce needs.
The redesign, pushed by Superintendent of Education John White, emphasizes skills training for students who don't intend to go to a four-year university, so they graduate with a certification in areas like welding, electrical work or a specialized skill for a chemical plant.
Fannin said he hoped to keep more students in school with the changes.
All public school districts will have to make the changes by the 2016-17 school year. The first students to receive the new diploma will graduate in 2018.
High school students who seek a career-track diploma will be required to get an industry-based certification or credentials earned through dual-enrollment coursework at a technical school or community college in order to graduate.
For example, students could become certified plumbers or mechanics or get training in web design, all while still in high school.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the career diploma changes earlier this year. Fannin's bill rewrites the law governing diplomas at public schools to match the BESE policy.
Jindal has said the changes, coupled with his effort to steer more money to science and technology programs in college, will help provide a pipeline of workers to fill thousands of petrochemical and manufacturing jobs his administration has drawn to Louisiana.

MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press

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