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Notes from Louisiana Legislature

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KNOE 8 News/AP) - The House supported a rewrite of Louisiana's career-track diploma law, to match a new policy of the state education board that will require public high school students who aren't college-bound to get job skills certifications to get a diploma.

The bill (House Bill 944) by Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, was sent to the Senate with a 94-0 vote Thursday.

The redesign, pushed by Superintendent of Education John White, emphasizes skills training for students who don't intend to go to a four-year university. Fannin said he hoped to keep more students in school with the changes.

"We got a lot of jobs that we need entry-level skills that we need to train in this state," Fannin said.

All public school districts will have to make the changes by the 2016-17 school year. The first students to receive the new diploma will graduate in 2018.

High school students who seek a career-track diploma will be required to get an industry-based certification or credentials earned through dual-enrollment coursework at a technical school or community college in order to graduate and earn their diploma.

For example, students could become certified electricians, plumbers or mechanics or get training in web design, all while still in high school.

Public school students in Louisiana who show proficiency in a language other than English could be able to get a state "Seal of Biliteracy" on their diplomas, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House in an 86-0 vote Thursday.

The proposal by Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, would encourage local school districts to participate in the program, but wouldn't require it.

Proficiency would be demonstrated if a student: passes an advanced placement exam or other world language test in a second language with a certain score, completes a certain number of high school language courses and achieves a 2.5 grade point average in those classes or passes a foreign government's approved language examination.

The bill heads next to the Senate for debate.

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