Louisiana students who successfully complete coursework in science, technology, engineering and math may soon be eligible to receive special endorsements on their high school diplomas.

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote on the endorsement options next week.

“More than half of Louisiana students are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields, but only 10 percent meet the benchmark demonstrating their readiness for math and science coursework in college,” said State Superintendent John White. “Louisiana is working to change this by ensuring students have exposure to STEM coursework and credentials starting in the early grades and continuing through college. The new diploma endorsements not only serve as an incentive for students to engage in these fields of student, but also as a reward for doing so.”

If approved, the diploma endorsements will be effective immediately and will include two options. One option is a silver seal that indicates a student has successfully completed required courses within a BESE-approved Jump Start STEM pathway. The other option is a gold seal that indicates a student has successfully completed all courses that comprise a BESE-approved Jump Start STEM pathway.

Each year, the Louisiana Department of Education will publish on its website a list of courses required for the STEM endorsement for each graduating class before the start of each school year. The required courses for 2018-19 are now available on the LDOE website.

“The STEM diploma endorsement is another stackable credential that allows our students in Louisiana to be more competitive in the workforce,” said BESE member Jada Lewis. “It also complements and aligns with our strategic priorities around developing credentials for students on a path to college or a career.”

The endorsements are part of the state’s broader push to boost STEM education and career preparation.

Last year, the state legislature established the LaSTEM Advisory Council to increase the number of students, particularly women, pursuing careers in engineering, cybertechnology, digital media and other high-demand fields to satisfy the state’s workforce needs. The council, in part, was charged with establishing diploma endorsements to recognize students who exhibit superior academic achievement in STEM subjects.