The state plans to add an endorsement on high school diplomas for students who complete a certain set of math, science, engineering and other classes, officials said Wednesday.

The change is part of Louisiana's push to elevate interest in STEM careers -- science, technology, engineering and math.

The issue surfaced during a meeting of the LaSTEM Advisory Council, which was launched last year to heighten interest in courses that can lead to jobs in engineering, digital media and cybertechnology.

The plan calls for specific courses to be reviewed by the council in August.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Board of Regents, during a joint meeting in December, will be asked to sign off on the plans, including which courses can count toward a diploma endorsement.

Ken Bradford, assistant superintendent for the Office of Student Opportunities, said diploma enhancements get the attention of high school students.

"These things are really competitive," Bradford told the council. "It is going to be something they go after."

Bradford said there is an outside chance the endorsements could be ready for high school graduates in May.

Lupe Lamadrid, senior policy analyst for the Board of Regents, said the STEM courses will be weighted, like Advanced Placement and other classes.

The council stems in part from concerns that STEM does not get enough attention in public schools, and that fact that only 10 percent of high school graduates are considered STEM eligible.


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