Monday, June 17, 2024

BESE boosts value of work-based learning in Louisiana’s education accountability system

by BPT Staff
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This week the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved policy that expands the definition of work-based learning initiatives and increases the point values of work-based learning experiences such as internships and apprenticeships within the state’s K-12 accountability system.

BESE’s policy actions strengthen and advance work-based learning opportunities for Louisiana’s high school students. The accountability system will more accurately reflect the value of work-based experiences and reward schools for developing effective programs and industry partnerships, and work-based learning has been redefined in policy to raise Louisiana’s standard for quality career education opportunities.

“When I work as a substitute teacher, students ask if BESE can make school more relevant,” said BESE President Ronnie Morris. “This week the Board responded unanimously to that question, alongside a bold commitment from the Louisiana business community. BESE recognized the value of internships and apprenticeships with employer compensation as relevant learning experiences in the state’s accountability system, and these on-the-job experiences will pair well with high school financial literacy course requirements, benefiting students, employers and communities.”

“Louisiana is elevating the value of career education and giving students more opportunities to graduate high school with skills in high value trades,” said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “BESE’s actions will benefit students, our economy, and our state.”

Work-based learning (WBL) provides opportunities for career and technical education (CTE) students to receive on-the-job training and related classroom instruction in all CTE program areas, and helps students develop job skills, identify career interests and goals, and gain experience in real-world work environments. Types of WBL experiences outlined in policy will now include cooperative education, paid internships, and structured on-the-job training as part of a paid Registered Apprenticeship recognized by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

“Businesses are looking for skilled labor and are willing to invest in Louisiana students,” said Morris. “Internships and Registered Apprenticeships not only benefit students by introducing them to workplace experiences and expectations, but fortify the talent pipeline in our state as well. This leads to a more skilled homegrown workforce and increased economic development.”

Two policy changes were approved by BESE. The first pertains to the valuation of internships and apprenticeships within the state’s current school and district accountability system. Beginning with School Performance Scores in 2026, students completing an internship and WBL experience as defined in BESE policy will earn an additional 5 points, up to a maximum of 160 points. Additionally, students completing a Fast Forward-aligned apprenticeship will earn the same number of points as students who have earned an associate’s degree.

The second policy revision expands the definition of work-based learning experiences to include structured on-the-job training as part of a Registered Apprenticeship, requires compensation for students participating in internships, outlines WBL teacher certification requirements, and clarifies required classroom experience and job training components. BESE-defined WBL experiences will be comprised of 20% classroom time in developing “soft skills” such as financial literacy and workplace communications, and 80% of instructional time dedicated to on-the-job training.

In developing recommendations for the new policies, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) studied the successful WBL programs of other states and worked in partnership with the Louisiana business and workforce development communities.

For more details regarding the valuation of WBL in the current state accountability system, see the policy revisions approved by BESE here.

For more details regarding updates to the definition of work based learning programs and related requirements, see the policy revisions approved by BESE here.

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