Senior Course Credit and Graduation Guidance FAQs

  • Due to the current COVID-19 concerns and subsequent proclamation by Gov. John Bel Edwards to extend the closure of all public school facilities to students until the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), the Board of Regents, the Governor and the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) have granted regulatory flexibilities that enable students to complete the school year and graduate without penalty.

    COURSE CREDIT GUIDANCE

    Q: What options can schools provide to help students meet credit requirements?

    The LDOE requires that high school students demonstrate they have met minimum course requirements to earn a Carnegie credit. SCPPS has determined that a student must complete and earn a passing grade for at least a majority of any course in order to meet this minimum requirement. High school teachers will provide home-learning instruction that will allow all high school students in SCPPS to learn and demonstrate understanding of the most essential concepts and skills for the remainder of each course in which they are currently enrolled.

    Q: Must the school award a grade or can Pass/Fail options be utilized?

    Bulletin 741 §2302 Uniform Grading Policy has been modified to allow senior Carnegie units to be reported with a Pass/Fail option. If the Pass/Fail option is utilized for senior course credit, it must be awarded for the entire course Carnegie unit. Pass/Fail options are not calculated into the Grade Point Average (GPA) for the purpose of Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS).

    If the Pass/Fail option is selected, parents must consult with the school through the Individual Graduation Plan (IGP) process to determine if Pass/Fail shall be used and how this may impact the TOPS GPA requirements. Schools are finalizing plans to provide this option and document parent/student decisions.

    Q: What if a student is currently failing a course?

    High school teachers will provide home-learning instruction that will allow all high school students in SCPPS to learn and demonstrate understanding of the most essential concepts and skills for the remainder of each course in which they are currently enrolled. For students that have not yet met minimum levels of proficiency, teachers will provide feedback on progress and offer additional home-learning opportunities.

    Q: Do schools have to check attendance daily while utilizing distance or alternative learning methods during mandatory school closures?

    The provisions that require daily attendance be taken at schools at the beginning of each school day and start of each class period have been suspended for the current school year.

     

    Q: How does the waiver of attendance requirements impact graduating seniors?

    All attendance requirements have been waived.

    Q: How does this impact senior students who are on a quarter system and have not had the opportunity to take required courses due to mandated school closures?

    Graduating seniors will have the opportunity to engage in alternative learning methods to take the minimum mandatory courses which are required for awarding a diploma by May 8, 2020.  All instructional minute requirements have been waived.

    Q: What if a student is enrolled in a dual enrollment course with a college or university?

    Board of Regents is bringing a policy recommendation forward in April 2020 that will codify allowing a student to:

    • continue the course via distance learning options through the higher education institution and earn credit when the course ends;
    • opt for an “In Progress” designation and have until August 31, 2020, to complete the course and earn credit (this option is only available for students who do not have access to the internet and/or technology); or
    • opt for an “Administrative Withdrawal” and exit the course with no credit and nothing posted to the official college transcript.

     

    Q: Can students in a dual enrollment course earn credit in the course and graduate without dual enrollment credit?

    If it has been determined that a student has demonstrated proficiency in the requisite high school course content, schools may opt to switch the course to a regular high school course code and award credit without the dual enrollment credit on the higher education institution transcript. The dual enrollment credit can be earned at a later time. For additional questions and/or information, please contact school administration.

    Q: Under Act 833, what if a graduating senior with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) needs to take a LEAP 2025 high school assessment to be eligible to graduate?

    The spring LEAP 2025 testing window has been cancelled, and the requirement has been waived for currently enrolled graduating seniors, including those eligible under Act 833, who will graduate by August 31, 2020. SCPPS is awaiting guidance from the Louisiana Department of Education on how to document the goal summary in the Special Education Reporting system.

    Q: Do the LEAP 2025 high school assessment waivers apply to students classified as juniors that have not yet been identified as seniors in data systems but who would be qualified as seniors this school year?

    If a student is eligible for graduation then the waivers applicable to graduation requirements would apply to that student. The senior waivers are not applicable to seniors not eligible to graduate in the current school year.

    Q: Do the LEAP 2025 high school assessment waivers apply to students who are not graduating seniors?

    The Department will recommend to BESE a policy change to waive the assessment graduation requirement for a high school assessment-eligible course earned by a student in 2019-2020 if the student would have been an initial tester. The policy change would not apply to any student who needs to retake the assessment to meet graduation requirements. 

    Q: How will schools serve students who need to retest in order to earn a diploma?

    The waivers apply to graduating seniors enrolled in the current school year as of February 1, 2020. The current plan is to have a summer test administration for students that were not taking any courses at the high school on February 1, 2020, and who only need to pass LEAP 2025 test(s) to be eligible to earn a diploma.

    Q: If seniors have not had the opportunity to take the ACT, will this be waived so these students can graduate?

    Seniors are not required to test as a condition of graduation. However, ACT exam options are available in June 2020 that can be used for TOPS eligibility. The new date for ACT administration is June 2, 2020.

    Q: Will the cancelation of the April 2020 ACT test have any implications concerning TOPS eligibility for Fall 2020?

    The state administration of ACT has been rescheduled for June 2, 2020. The national ACT test administration has been moved to June 13, 2020, and the Board of Regents will ask the Legislature to take action to allow a student to qualify for Fall 2020 TOPS with the June test date. The Board of Regents will provide updates once action is taken.

    Q: If a student is planning to graduate early this year, have all of their testing requirements been met? Will these requirements be waived for early graduates?

    If the student’s IGP plan indicated they were on track for a three-year graduation and the student has the necessary credits, they have met graduation requirements.

    Q: Will testing requirements be waived for 5th and 6th year graduates?

    Yes, all testing requirements have been waived. As long as they have met the course requirements of each class, they will be able to graduate.

    Q: Will a student who has not completed the financial aid planning requirement be eligible to graduate?

    The financial aid requirement has been waived for graduating seniors who will graduate by August 31. Schools will maintain a list of those students and complete a hardship waiver. For any student needing to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), online and phone support can be accessed by sending a request to ldefianancialaid@la.gov. It should be noted that, although FAFSA has been waived as a graduation requirement, students and parents need to confirm the FAFSA requirements for TOPS as established by the Louisiana Office of Students Financial Assistance (LOSFA). The FAFSA is still a requirement for TOPS, and other state and federal financial aid.

    There are benefits to still completing the FAFSA; the primary reason is to reduce post-secondary expenses.

    In addition to state financial aid programs (e.g. TOPS and LA Go Grant), there are also Federal Student Aid programs that require FAFSA completion, including:

    • Pell Grant
    • Supplemental Education Opportunity Program/SEOG
    • Federal Work Study
    • Federal Direct Loans

    Certain scholarships, like the Bill Gates Scholarship, require FAFSA completion. Several institutions even use the FAFSA as the scholarship application. Additionally, in order to be awarded scholarships at many highly selective institutions, a student must complete the FAFSA and College Scholarship Service Profile.

    Q: Will a TOPS Tech Career Diploma student be eligible to graduate if school closures impacted their ability to earn an Industry Based Credential (IBC)?

    The IBC terminal graduation requirement has been waived for seniors who will graduate by May 8, 2020.

    Q: How is credit awarded in a course with a LEAP 2025 high school assessment?

    Spring LEAP 2025 assessments have been cancelled for all students in the current school year and are not a graduation requirement for current seniors.

     

    TAYLOR OPPORTUNITY PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS (TOPS) INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS

    Q: I am a student. My school is giving me the option to receive a Pass/Fail grade for one or more of the courses required to complete the TOPS Core Curriculum. How will that affect my TOPS Core GPA?

    For TOPS purposes, courses graded on Pass/Fail basis are not assigned a quality point value and are not included in the calculation of the TOPS Core GPA. A TOPS core course that is completed as a “pass” is not included in the grade point calculation in any way. Failed courses cannot be used to complete the core curriculum, and as a result, will not impact a student’s TOPS Core GPA. If a course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis, the unit earned will not be included to calculate the TOPS Core GPA. Passed courses will be used to satisfy the TOPS core curriculum requirements, but they will not increase a student’s GPA. Failed courses cannot be counted in the number of units needed to satisfy the TOPS core curriculum requirement.

    Example for students: If one of your TOPS Core courses is graded on a Pass basis, your TOPS Cumulative GPA will be computed by dividing your total grade points by 18 units instead of 19 units. If two of your TOPS Core courses are graded on a Pass basis, your TOPS Cumulative GPA will be computed by dividing your total grade points by 17 units instead of 19 units.

    Q: I am a high school senior and currently have a 2.49 TOPS Core GPA. I chose to receive Pass/Fail grades for my courses and passed all the TOPS Core courses, will I be eligible for TOPS?

    No. A course that is passed will be used in counting the number of units needed to satisfy the TOPS Core Curriculum requirement; however, no numerical value will be assigned to that Pass grade. As a result, your TOPS Core GPA would remain 2.49. TOPS requires that you earn at least a 2.50 GPA, which means you would not be eligible for a TOPS Award.

    Q: I am a student and chose to receive Pass/Fail grades. I failed one of the courses in the TOPS Core Curriculum. Does this affect my TOPS Eligibility?

    Yes. A failed course cannot be counted in the number of units needed to satisfy the TOPS Core Curriculum requirement. If you needed this course in order to meet the Core Curriculum requirements and you received an “F,” you would not have met the Core Curriculum, and you will not be eligible for a TOPS award.

    Q: I am currently a high school senior, but I was not able to complete/pass some of the TOPS Core curriculum courses due to the COVID-19 school closures. Can I take those courses over the summer to qualify for TOPS?

    Yes. However, you must make sure you have completed the TOPS Core Curriculum prior to graduation from high school by August 31, 2020.  These classes must be listed on your official high school transcript at the time of graduation to be considered for the TOPS Core Curriculum. You will not be allowed to complete TOPS Core Curriculum courses after high school graduation to qualify for a TOPS award.

    Q: Can TOPS Core Curriculum classes be waived if we weren’t able to complete them due to COVID-19 school closures?

    No. A TOPS Core course cannot be waived, except under limited circumstances for students with one or more learning, visual, hearing or physical disabilities, and/or exceptionalities. You are still required to complete the TOPS Core Curriculum requirements.

    Q: I am a student. My ACT score puts me in the range to qualify for either TOPS Performance or TOPS Honors. I currently have a 2.95 TOPS Core GPA and passed all the TOPS Core Curriculum courses through a Pass/Fail grading system my senior year. Can I qualify for the higher level of TOPS with just my ACT score, given the circumstances?

    No. Students must still meet TOPS eligibility requirements for each level of TOPS that includes earning a qualifying ACT score and completing the TOPS Core Curriculum with the required GPA. Your TOPS Core GPA will not be rounded up.

    Q: I am a student with over 19 units to meet the TOPS Core Curriculum requirement. I received a Pass grade for a course I hoped to use as a substitute for another course and boost my GPA. How will my TOPS Core GPA be impacted?

    If you have earned more than the required number of units of courses that are included in the TOPS Core Curriculum, your TOPS Core GPA will be calculated using the courses with the highest grades that satisfy the required core curriculum category. The program will choose the full numeric letter grade over the Pass grade.

    Q: If I did not have a TOPS Core GPA of 3.00 when I graduated high school due to COVID-19 school closures, but I make a 3.00 cumulative GPA in college, can I move up to a higher award level?

    No. You are awarded TOPS based on your academic performance in high school. Once awarded, you must meet certain academic standards in college to continue your award.

    Q: If I did not have a TOPS Core GPA of 2.50 when I graduated high school due to COVID-19 school closures, can I get a higher GPA in college and receive TOPS then?

    No. You are awarded TOPS based on your academic performance in high school. You must meet the TOPS requirements at the time of graduation from high school.

    Q: Is there an exception for the TOPS Core GPA due to COVID-19 school closures?

    No. TOPS requires a minimum TOPS Core GPA of 2.50. This requirement still applies even if a student chooses to receive Pass/Fail grades from their high school.

    Q: If a student earns a letter grade for the first semester then chooses to take a Pass/Fail grade for the second semester, how will their grade be reported to LOSFA, and how will this impact their TOPS Eligibility?

    A course with an earned grade of Pass can only be entered as Y1 – Year Long Course. A student cannot receive a grade of Pass for one part of a course and a letter grade for the other part of the course. The student would be missing ½ unit of the required 19 core units. Students should speak to their counselor regarding their policy for reporting grades to LOSFA.