Department of Education launches high school fifth-year pilot program

The Louisiana Department of Education is seeking applications from school systems, colleges and businesses to test a new pilot program called “Extension Academy,” aimed at reducing student debt and helping high school graduates get jobs.

The department is billing the program as “an alternative graduation model” where certain students would participate in what is essentially a fifth year of high school, where they could learn career skills and college credits. Businesses can participate through offering apprenticeships, for example.

Extension Academy pilot programs will specifically support students who are positioned to graduate from high school but have yet to earn TOPS scholarship.

Entities interested in applying must outline how they will help students move into careers, higher education or industry certification over the course of the pilot. In their pitch, applicants must also detail the types of support and post-secondary transitional coaching that will be available to the participating students.

One pilot plan has already been approved. The Orleans Parish School Board—in partnership with YouthForce NOLA, an education, business and civic collaborative that prepares public school students for career pathways—was the only school system to submit a pilot application for 2019-2020.

The approved plan brings together 29 area schools and various local business and nonprofit partners, to provide hands-on opportunities to build workplace skills and training in construction crafts, graphic design, video editing and software development. The higher education partner, which will provide dual enrollment courses for college credit, is Southern New Hampshire University. Read the full announcement. 

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