Pathways To Graduation

Louisiana has two main graduation pathways for all students, including those with disabilities.

Each has its own set of requirements and will lead to a diploma. Your IEP Team can help you decide which is best for your child.

TOPS University Pathway

  • The traditional high school pathway

  • Prepares students to go on to a 4-year college

Jump Start Career (or TOPS Tech) Pathway

  • Prepares students for a technical or community college AND trains them for a specific career

  • Students will get a diploma and a "Credential" for a certain type of job

What if my child has a significant disability and will not be completing the requirements for a diploma?

  • If your child’s IEP focuses more on life skills, those goals will guide their path through high school.

  • They may take an Alternate Assessment pathway, which is a version of Jump Start. It has different requirements and testing options.

Click on the boxes below to learn more:

This option is for students who plan to go to a 4-year college. It is the traditional high school pathway.

Graduation Requirements are the courses a student needs to take (and pass) in order to graduate.

They are listed in terms of Carnegie Units. One Carnegie Unit means that there has been 120 hours of class time in a certain course. This is usually the same as a one-semester course.

End of Course (EOC) Assessments are tests students take after each course to be sure they understand the course content. They must get a certain score to be able to count the course and earn the Carnegie Unit.

Graduation Requirements for a TOPS University Diploma:

Chart showing the graduation requirements for a TOPS University DiplomaImage of a clipboard
Must have an EOC Assessment Score of Fair or higher in these courses:
- Algera 1 or Geometry
- English II or English III
- Biology or U.S. History

         

Click on the link at the end of the page to download a more detailed list of required courses. (It will open in a new window or appear in the bottom corner of your screen.)

Source: LA DOE

This option is for students who want to train for a job during high school.

It will give them a jump start on getting the career and technical experience they'll need.  It also prepares them for going on to a technical or community college.

What do you get when you graduate?Image with the subject 'What do you get when you graduate' above the text 'High School Diploma and one or more credentials for a specific type of job. Also called an Industry Based Credential (IBC)'

What classes do you take?

Image with the subject 'What classes do you take? Above the text 'College prep (math, english, etc.) Career Education (Basic Job Skills), Training for specific jobs (Like plumber, cook or EMT)'

Click here for a quick 2-minute video about Jump Start! (It will open in a new window.)

Graduation Requirements are the courses a student needs to take (and pass) in order to graduate.

They are listed in terms of Carnegie Units. One Carnegie Unit means that there has been 120 hours of class time in a certain course. This is usually the same as a full year course.

End of Course (EOC) Assessments are tests students take after each course to be sure they understand the course content. They must get a certain score to be able to count the course and earn the Carnegie Unit.

Jump Start Pathway Graduation Requirements:

Chart showing graduation requirements for Jump Start Pathway Programimage of a clipboard
Must have an EOC Assessment Score of Fair or higher in these courses:
- Algera 1 or Geometry
- English II or English III
- Biology or U.S. History

 

To learn more about Jump Start, click on these resources: 

They'll open in a new tab or window, or appear in the bottom corner of your screen.

 

Sources: Jump Start Video Network (JSVN) Cowen Institute, SchoolTube, Inc., LA DOE

The Alternate Assessment or LEAP Connect Pathway is for students with more severe learning or intellectual disabilities and need their school work to be different from their non-disabled classmates.

(It used to be called LAA 1.)

If your child's disability affects their ability to pass the EOC (End of Course) tests and follow the standard requirements for the diploma, they can take this route. This is only for students on the Jumpstart pathway or for those who are not working toward a diploma.

  • This is generally for students who have pretty significant cognitive impairments. Students have to qualify by failing a certain number of EOCs. Usually you would decide this in 10th grade.

  • Students will have different (simplified) course content and take modified assessment tests. The courses can be geared toward skills that they can use to meet their personal goals.

  • Students CAN earn a diploma, but their transcript will reflect this alternate assessment status. It will show a less rigorous course of study and they will not have a Grade Point Average (GPA).

  • This pathway would not lead to a traditional college, but may allow them to  go to one that has a Comprehensive Transition and Post-Secondary (CTP) Program.

If your child is on this pathway, or you think they should be, ask their IEP team to explain this option!

If your child is on this pathway and you think they could manage the regular pathway with the right support, talk to the team!

If your child has a significant intellectual disability, their path through high school will be different from their peers, but the process of preparing for their future is similar.

Here's what you can do:

  • Think carefully about what their life might look like after they turn 22. Will they live with you or would you look for a supported living situation? Could they work or volunteer if they had support? What do they like to do? How can they engage with the community?

  • Make sure that theirIEP and transition plan address the skills they'll need for that future. They may need to learn things like self-care activities, social skills, communication and safety.

  • Make sure the school is teaching them the skills that are in their IEP. Make sure the transition plan is realistic and aims for the highest level of independence you think is possible.

  • If your child's school does not seem to be meeting their needs, you may want to look into other schools. Some have better programs for students with more severe disabilities.

Some important things to know:

  • Your child can stay in school until they turn 22. The law guarantees them an education until this age. This includes therapies like speech, occupational and behavioral therapies if needed.

  • Students with significant intellectual disabilities will take a pathway called LEAP Connect or Alternate Assessment. (Used to be called LAA 1.)

  • There are 3 specialized residential schools in Louisiana. If your child is deaf, visually impaired or has an orthopedic diagnosis, they may be able to qualify for one of these. Click on this link to the Special School District web page (it will open in a new tab). Or call 225-763-5515.

  • When your child turns 18, you will no longer have a legal right to make decisions for them or to see their health or educational records. If they are unlikely to be able to make their own decisions as an adult, you should consider going through a legal process to get the right to make decisions on their behalf. This is called tutorship or conservatorship. You need to start this process well before they turn 18! To learn more, see our other Guide, Decision-Making for Adult Children.(it will open in a new tab)

  • If your child will likely need personal care assistance as an adult, it's important to connect them to the state services and apply for Medicaid Waivers. See the Medicaid Waivers Guides to learn more (it will open in a new tab). Also see the other FAQ: What state agencies could help my child?.

What if the school says they can't help your child and suggests you keep them at home?

Don't let a school push you into home-schooling your child unless you want to and can hire special education professionals. It's illegal for a school district to refuse to educate a child. They are required to find special educators and address your child's needs. Special education teachers have training and can help your child to maximize their learning. If you home-school your child, they will not get the benefit if this expertise, or other special services and therapies that they may need.

Source: LDOE, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

 

Source: LDOE

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