A new state law will allow students in C, D and F public schools to pursue all but one class outside of a traditional school setting, a state official said Wednesday morning.
Ken Bradford, assistant superintendent for content, made the comment, during a 50-minute webinar on a little-noticed but significant part of one of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s public school overhaul bills.
The Louisiana Legislature approved the measure, which is known as Act 2, in April.
Most of the attention was focused on another provision, which is a statewide expansion of Louisiana’s voucher program for low and middle-income students in struggling public schools.
But another component, called the “course choice program,” is sparking questions from superintendents, guidance counselors and others as state officials unveil the details.
State Superintendent of Education John White has touted the change as largely a way to aid students in low-performing schools to catch up with their peers and graduate on time.
White said Louisiana will be the first state that allows some students to tailor their own education plans with public dollars paying for individual courses.
He said in a press release that the change means students “will have more customized options tailored to their particular needs and interests.”
Online schools, business and industry groups, independent teachers and colleges are being asked to submit proposals for courses, which would be reviewed by department officials, an independent panel and the state’s top school board.
Bradford said that, under the law, students who pursue “course choice” will only be required to attend one class per day at their home school.
Bradford was not immediately available to elaborate on that point.
But apparently students would have the option of pursuing courses similar to those offered at school that instead would be taught by one of the private providers.
Those classes could be taught online, in person or through a combination.
Course providers, once they are approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, would be eligible for state payments based on a formula spelled out in the law.
BESE is set to approve the course providers on Dec. 5.
An online catalogue will be published on Jan. 1, and registration will begin on March 7 for the 2013-14 school year.
About 380,000 students attend schools rated C, D or F in Louisiana out of a total of about 700,000.