Participation in a state program that offers students more course choices shot up eight times after getting a $7.5 million boost from the Legislature last year, education leaders announced Wednesday.
The expansion, which was pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, is an offshoot of Louisiana’s Course Choice, which is aimed at giving students in grades seven through 12 access to classes that are not easily available.
Students have enrolled in 19,068 of the courses for the current school year, up from 2,362 in the previous school year, the state Department of Education announced.
More than 13,000 of the sign-ups are dual-enrollment — courses taken by public school students that also earn college credit.
College algebra, English composition and Western civilization are the most popular courses.
LSU and schools in the University of Louisiana system account for more than 6,800 of the enrollments.
Courses are offered both online and face-to-face and include remedial work.
The Course Choice program, which Jindal pushed through the Legislature in 2012, sparked a lawsuit over how it was funded.
Last year, $2 million came from federal dollars from an oil and gas settlement and $1 million from the state Department of Education.
The Legislature in 2014, at Jindal’s urging, added $7.5 million to the state’s public school funding program after that move was recommended by a task force.
“The increase in enrollment means more of our kids are working toward academic success in the classroom, and we won’t stop working to make education the best it can be for our children,” Jindal said in a prepared statement.
The gains also were praised by state Superintendent of Education John White; BESE member Jay Guillot, of Ruston, the chairman of the task force; and Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association.
Critics say it is a mistake for private firms to take part in a state-financed school program.