Jun 28, 2018
Since 2012, Louisiana has been developing policies to improve student outcomes in the areas of early childhood education, K–12 academics, teacher preparation, and graduation pathways; an overview of these efforts is provided in the 2018 RAND report Raising the Bar: Louisiana's Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes. The current report, which is part of a four-part series on the implementation and outcomes of these reforms, focuses on Louisiana's implementation of high school graduation pathways and associated efforts to improve college readiness, career readiness, and access to financial aid.
In the 2014–2015 school year, Louisiana began requiring students in grades 9–12 to pursue one or both of two possible graduation pathways: one focused on preparation for college, and one focused career and technical education (CTE). To increase college enrollment among students who might not have attended college otherwise, Louisiana required that all students take the ACT college entrance exam (beginning with the graduating class of 2013) and fill out financial aid forms (beginning with the graduating class of 2018). To improve links with employers, Louisiana required students pursuing CTE pathways to obtain an industry-based credential. In support of these goals, Louisiana took additional steps related to data and accountability, teacher training, and partnerships with higher education and workforce boards.
The authors of this report explore early signals regarding changes in student outcomes that might be associated with these actions and consider the implications for state policies in Louisiana and across the United States.