By David Bramlett, Senior Director at America Achieves
I love word association games. For example, who do you think of when someone says “genius?” Maybe Albert Einstein, Bill Belichick, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mozart, or Shakespeare. What about when someone says “Louisiana?” Maybe you think of crawfish, Madri Gras, the bayou, the Mississippi Delta, amazing food, or jazz.
My hope is that someday soon, “preparing students for in-demand jobs” will be one of the things that people associate with Louisiana.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) Jump Start Convening in Baton Rouge, LA. Jump Start is Louisiana’s Career and Technical Education program. In this program, students earn industry credentials and graduate high school prepared to secure a high-wage job and attend a technical or community college.
Part of the discussion at the convening was centered around building off the success of Jump Start to target the most in-demand credentials (and associated jobs) in specific regions in Louisiana. Both LDOE and educators in Louisiana have an opportunity to propel this work forward — but how can this most effectively be done? A high level of detail and planning of career pathways is part of the work that needs to happen everywhere so that all students have access to education and economic opportunity.
How can we ensure students are made aware of these opportunities and career pathways into in-demand jobs?
This is the question that drives America Achieves’ work in Louisiana, and one of the things that brought me to Jump Start Convening in January.
LDOE, in partnership with America Achieves, is rolling out and scaling Quest for Success (QfS), a new, high-school level, career exploration course next year across the state of Louisiana. The new course, developed by educators in Louisiana through the America Achieves Louisiana Educator Voice Fellowship, will help all students to:
develop essential 21st-century workforce skills - the ability to communicate, collaborate, and lead;
explore new and exciting careers and industry sectors; and
learn about themselves and their interests to successfully navigate high school, postsecondary education, and career pathways.
Quest for Success is carefully planned to help students progress from knowing and being aware of themselves and themselves in relation to others, to leading responsibly, and to leveraging these skills in identifying personal and career goals and planning for the future so that they can choose the appropriate pathway (potentially Jump Start) that is best for them.
Over 50 innovative, inspirational teachers are currently piloting Quest for Success in Louisiana this school year, and both the teachers and their students have weighed in with approval. The strength of the first unit, as remarked by one teacher, was “the self-reflection that is required of each student. I felt like it made the students really think about the goals and objectives they wanted to focus on in their lives.”
The Jump Start Convening was an opportunity for more teachers, principals, and CTE directors to know about the opportunity to implement Quest for Success next school year. The session was led by two America Achieves Educator Voice Fellows who helped develop the course, and over 200 individuals attended the sessions.
I continue to be encouraged by the work of educators and LDOE to make sure students are aware of and prepared for the well-paid, upwardly mobile jobs and careers in their area
If you are a school in Louisiana that is interested in offering Quest for Success next school year, go to the Louisiana Believes website and reach out to the Jump Start team at JumpStart@la.gov.
I am excited to continue seeing this and other career-readiness efforts continue to take root in Louisiana so that some day soon individuals across the nation associate Louisiana with “preparing students for in-demand jobs.”
Watch this video to learn more about the design process for Quest for Success: