Louisiana creates 'career option' diploma

Louisiana students will be able to leave the college-prep track at age 15  with their parents’ permission.

Graduates who took the new curriculum would get a career-option diploma that would not qualify them for a four-year college or university. Instead, they could attend two-year technical schools or community colleges.

Critics, including the state superintendent, say career students risk graduating with inadequate reading and math skills. But proponents want to cut the dropout rate by giving students an option that matches their interests and abilities.

The bill was modified to require students who do poorly on an eighth-grade test to take remedial classes in summer school before moving on to ninth grade. Currently, students who fail the test have to repeat eighth grade.

Lowering expectations is a mistake, editorializes The Advocate.

About Joanne


  1. Dennis Fermoyle says:

    This makes sense! Obviously, we don’t want most kids to take this route, but there are some kids for whom the academic route just isn’t working. Yet, you’ll see some of these kids at their part-time jobs and they perform well. There is no sense forcing them to stay in a track where we make them miserable, and they often make learning more difficult for everyone else.

  2. “…at age 15 with their parents’ permission”

    This I can agree with.

  3. Absolutely – This is the plan in New Hampshire, on the table in Utah and Massachusetts, and the model for every industrialized country in the world except the U.S.


  4. Mark Roulo says:

    This makes sense! Obviously, we don’t want most kids to take this route …

    Why not?

    College for 50%+ of the population makes very little sense.

    And many/most high schools no longer teach vocational subjects (e.g. carpentry, automotive whatever, …), so it isn’t like the extra 2-3 years of high school learning about the imagery in “The Raven” (a) helps the kids get a job, or (b) provides any ‘broadening of life perspective’ for most kids.

    Why not let them loose* to do something that they (a) want to do, and (b) has some concrete value?

    *NOTE: Letting them loose isn’t ‘kicking them out.’ I just don’t see how it would be a problem if most kids *did* take this route.

    -Mark Roulo

  5. college may or may not make sense, but college readiness does.

  6. Mark, “letting them loose isn’t kicking them out,” is a good point. A couple of weeks ago I went out to eat and had a former student as a waitress. As a student she performed and behaved miserably and got nothing but Fs. As a waitress, she was wonderful, and I told her so. Forcing her to jump through our hoops so she can get a high school diploma does nobody any good, and it’s actually unfair to her.

    Chris, college readiness is great for most kids but it is completely impractical and doesn’t make sense for some.

  7. While it’s true that people with a college education earn more, there are opportunities out there for people with high school and associate degrees. College isn’t for everyone and there should be a track for people who don’t have the interest (or resources) for a four-year degree. Whether ending school at the age of 15 is a good idea or not, is another matter.


  8. This is a difficult question, but just look at the stats on high school graduation, college acceptance, college remediation, and college retention/graduation. They are dismal. To me we have an obvious need for getting students ready for whatever their reality is going to be – whether it’s college or not.

    I do worry about the message it sends to under served populations. I was in one of them during high school – severe poverty. Will minority students and poorer students have the ability to keep up without being tossed down a track that might just be beneath their potential? That’s something I would worry about.