The St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District has been recognized as one of the top districts in the state at providing dual enrollment opportunities to students.
The district was identified by a Board of Regents Task Force formed after the recent legislative session to develop a new Dual Enrollment Statewide Framework. As part of its work, the Louisiana Department of Education was asked to identify the top school districts working to provide economically disadvantaged students with dual enrollment opportunities.
“St. John the Baptist stands out as the No. 2 ranked school district in the state – with a 79 percent rate of enrollment in DE (dual enrollment) by economically disadvantaged students,” according to Dr. Lupe Lamadrid, Louisiana Board of Regents senior policy analyst.
Dual enrollment provides opportunities for students to enroll in college courses for credit prior to high school graduation. Among the advantages of a strong dual enrollment program are less time to complete a college degree, savings on college tuition, the opportunity to explore fields of study that help students choose a career, the ability to take classes not offered in high school and credits that may directly transfer to a two- or four-year college.
Identifying that there is uneven access to dual enrollment classes across the state, the Task Force was established to study problems such as low participation among African-American students, lack of access in rural areas and the high cost of classes to students.
The Task Force then began identifying school districts such as St. John the Baptist that have excelled at overcoming these obstacles to determine what is being done and how that can be replicated statewide.
St. John currently has partnerships with River Parishes Community College, Delgado Community College, Baton Rouge Community College, Southeastern Louisiana University, Louisiana State University and Xavier University.
Last school year, more than 1,000 college credits were earned by students in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools.
“What is more outstanding to St. John the Baptist Parish’s increased participation in dual enrollment courses is that our students who meet college ACT requirements and college acceptance while in high school are not limited to the colleges listed above,” said Shannon Smith-Magee, the district’s Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment High School Coordinator. “If a student wishes to take an after-hours course and is in good academic standing with their high school courses and graduation requirements all they have to do is talk to their counselor, along with the district dual enrollment coordinator, and explore the possibilities.”
To ease access to dual enrollment courses, the district also provides transportation to in-demand classes. The district also utilizes Supplemental Course Allocations to cover the cost of two college courses per semester for students who qualify.
“The St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District has done an excellent job at making sure that our students are aware of the opportunities that are within their grasp,” Smith-Magee said. “We want to make sure that we are providing all the possible resources to achieve this desired goal.”