AP NEWS

Caddo, Calcasieu plan high school 5th year pilot programs

January 14, 2020 GMT

LAKE CHARLES (AP) — Some Louisiana students can spend an extra year in high school, working toward advanced credentials in a pilot program spreading from New Orleans to northwest and southwest Louisiana.

Authorities say the Caddo and Calcasieu Parish “extension academies” will allow debt-free training for students who have enough credits to graduate but don’t qualify for Louisiana’s free college and technical school tuition program.

About 15,000 students statewide were aiming for the TOPS university program but didn’t make it in 2018, and another 3,200 tried unsuccessfully that year for the TOPS tech program, according to the state Department of Education.

Like the one in New Orleans, the new programs will cover three years. They’re planned to start in the 2020-21 school year with up to 25 students, a news release said.

It said New Orleans’ program has 17 students in construction crafts, graphic design, video editing and software development..

Extension academies are meant to help students with any or all of three aims: making significant progress toward an associate degree through dual enrollment with a college, completing a registered pre-apprenticeship; and earning an advanced industry-based credential.

The Calcasieu Parish School Board will bring 11 public schools together with Sowela Technical Community College, McNeese State University and regional industries as the Southwest Consortium Extension Academy. Its program will include training in welding, pipefitting, automotive, electrical, culinary arts, nursing, criminal justice, business administration, drafting and process technology.

The Caddo Parish School board will bring 12 public schools together with Ayers Career College, Bossier Parish Community College and regional industries as the Northwest Consortium Extension Academy. Credential training will include medical assistant, pharmacy tech, cyber programs, HVAC, and automotive.

The Louisiana Extension Academy in New Orleans brings together 29 schools with YouthForce NOLA, Southern New Hampshire University and numerous companies and other partners. A program with YouthForce NOLA and other partners began in 2019 and one jointly headed by KIPP New Orleans and Collegiate Academies will start this year, according to NOLA Public Schools.