Louisiana Readiness Policies


High School and Postsecondary Alignment

SREB’s Challenge to Lead 2020 goals call for states to align middle grades and high school policies with college-readiness standards, to recognize multiple paths to graduation and to provide students with diverse postsecondary options and resources. The following tabs summarize how Louisiana aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  


College and Career Planning in K-12

High school students develop Individual Graduation Plans with the help of their parents and school counselors. Students choose a career concentration that informs their selection of academic electives. School counselors are responsible for meeting with students, advising on academic choices and helping students update their plans throughout high school.

The Louisiana Department of Education, Board of Regents and other state education agencies provide access to online tools for Louisiana students and their families to help them plan, apply and pay for college at www.KnowHow2GoLouisiana.org.


High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Students Entering Grade 9 in the 2014-2015 School Year

Students may complete two types of high school diplomas: the Taylor Opportunity for Students (TOPS) University Diploma or the Jump Start TOPS Tech Career Diploma. The Jump Start program allows students to take career courses, certify skill mastery in specific career fields and prepares students for high-wage careers.

Each diploma requires 23 credits for completion. However, all Louisiana’s 9th and 10th grade students will take common foundational coursework, irrespective of the diploma pathway they ultimately receive. Each student will be required to complete 2 units of English, math, science, social studies, and health & physical education in these grades.

Subject TOPS University Diploma Jump Start TOPS Tech (Career Diploma)

4 Credits: 

English I

English II

English III

English IV

English I

English II

Two Credits from the following: English III, English IV, AP, IB, Business English, Technical Writing or comparable LA Technical College courses as approved by BESE


4 Credits:

Algebra I


Algebra II

One advanced  math course         

1 Credit from: Algebra I, Algebra I, Part One and Two or an applied or hybrid Algebra course

3 Credits from: Geometry, Math Essentials, Financial Literacy, Business Math, Algebra II, Algebra III*, Advanced Math – Functions and Statistics, Advanced Math – Pre-Calculus, Pre-Calculus, or comparable approved Louisiana Technical College courses


4 Credits:

Biology I

Chemistry I

Two from: one of Chemistry II, Physics I, Electricity and Magnetism, Biology II; or one  of Biology II, Anatomy and Physiology           

2 Credit:

Biology I

Chemistry I

Social Studies

4 Credits:

U. S. History

One from Civics, Government, AP U.S. Government and Politics: Comparative

Two from Western Civilization, or European History; and World Geography, World History, Government, or Economics

2 Credits:

U.S. History

One from Civics, Government, AP U.S. Government and Politics: Comparative

Health/ Physical Education

3 Credits:

Physical Education

Physical Education II, Marching Band, Extracurricular Sports, Cheering or Dance Teams

Health Education or JROTC I and II

3 Credits:

Physical Education

Physical Education II, Marching Band, Extracurricular Sports, Cheering or Dance Teams

Health Education or JROTC I and II

Additional Credits

2 Credits in the same foreign language

2 Credits in an art

2 Elective Credits

9 Jump Start Course Units: Each student must complete a regionally-designed, district-implemented series of Career and Technical Education Jump Start coursework and workplace-based learning experiences leading to a statewide or regional Jump Start credential.

Total Credits 23 23

Students may earn a Community Service Endorsement for completing a minimum of 80 hours of community service hours by graduation.

Assessment Requirements

Students take end-of-course tests in six courses: English II, English III, Algebra I, Geometry, Biology I, and U.S. History. To earn a high school diploma, students must score Fair or above on at least three EOC exams, including one in English, one in math, and one in Biology or U.S. History. Student scores on EOC tests count toward a student’s final course grade. Students in grade 11 must also take the ACT or ACT WorkKeys if on track for a Jump Start Diploma.


Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Competency-Based Credit

The College Level Examination Program is an opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery on 33 exams in five subject areas allowing them to earn between 3 and 12 college credits before leaving high school. The amount of college credit a student can earn on individual CLEP exams varies by college.

Career and Technical Education

The Louisiana Department of Education career education initiative, Jump Start, requires students to attain industry-valued credentials to graduate. Jump Start regional teams have developed 47 graduation pathways for students to pursue. Schools receive the same credit for students pursuing advanced credentials and technical diplomas as for those who achieve top AP test scores.

The TOPS-Tech Early Start (TTSE) Award may be used for eligible 11th and 12th grade students to help fund any technical or applied course leading to a certificate issued by a postsecondary institution or any Louisiana Workforce recognized training. To be eligible, students must meet the following:

  • Be in good standing as defined by the student’s high school
  • Have an approved 5-year Education and Career Plan
  • Have accumulative GPA of 2.0
  • Score 15 or above on the math and English portions of the Pre-ACT or equivalent assessments, or Silver level on the ACT WorkKeys
  • Enroll in a course in an Industry

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Dual enrollment students enroll in college courses at local technical, community and/or four-year colleges for dual high-school and college credit. Students must meet the admissions standard of the college in which they are enrolled.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

Students who enroll in Advanced Placement courses, and score a 3 or higher on the corresponding EOC may be eligible for college credit for the course. Offered courses are aligned with the TOPS core requirements, and exam scores of 3 or higher are recognized with 150 points (the highest achievement level) toward the graduation index. AP exam scores of a 1 or 2 earn 110 points toward the graduation index.

The Louisiana Department of Education uses federal funds to reduce to exam cost for low-income students. Further, the department provides grants to schools that are implementing or expanding an Advanced Placement (AP) program. AP courses carry extra weight when determining the GPA for the TOPS scholarship.

To participate in the International Baccalaureate program, Louisiana students must enroll in a full time, six-course program. Students who score a 4 or higher on standardized EOC exams will earn college credit as well as the maximum 150 points toward the graduation index. Students who earn a 1, 2, or 3 on IB exams will receive 110 points toward the graduation index.

Early High School Graduation

Louisiana high school students have the option of leaving high school early—typically after the junior year—and enrolling full time in college. Students who qualify for early admission must have a “B” average over three years and a score of 25 or higher on the ACT or the SAT equivalent. Early college students earn their high school diplomas by successfully completing their first 24 credit-hours at the college level.


Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

The Board of Regents group public, four-year universities by institution type. Each grouping shares minimum standards for ACT scores and high school GPAs in the core curriculum. Universities may adopt additional, more specific or rigorous requirements.

All applicants must complete the Regents’ 4 Core curriculum, which is composed of 19 credits: four units each in English, math, science and social studies; two units of world language; and one unit of fine arts. The Board of Regents will use the TOPS University Diploma curriculum starting with the 2018 high school graduating class. Universities may make exceptions to the minimum admission standards for 4 to 8 percent of the freshman class, depending on the institution type.

Minimum Performance Requirements by Institution Type

Institution Type High School GPA ACT Composite
Flagship (Louisiana State University) 3.0 25
Statewide Universities 2.5 23
Regional Universities 2.0 20

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Community colleges are open-admission institutions. Applicants must complete an admissions application, submit their high school diplomas, GED credentials and/or scores on institutional tests that indicate their ability to benefit from instruction, provide proof of selective service registration, and produce immunization records. System policy states that specific educational programs may require additional admissions documentation.


Postsecondary Placement Policies


Students at all public institutions must earn at least a 19 ACT score in Math for placement in college-level courses or earn the equivalent in Math on the SAT, ASSET or Compass:

  • 460-470 in SAT Math
  • 40 on the Algebra section of the COMPASS Mathematics test
  • 43 on the Elementary Algebra section of the ASSET Mathematics tests

Students at all public institutions must earn at least an 18 ACT score in English for placement in college-level courses or earn the equivalent in English on the SAT, ASSET or Compass:

  • 450 in SAT Verbal
  • 68 on the COMPASS Writing Test
  • 44 on the ASSET Writing Skills Test

Students within one point of the 19 ACT benchmark in math or within two points of the 18 ACT benchmark in English may be admitted if enrolled in an English/math course with supplemental/co-requisite delivery of developmental support.

Students who are within two points of the 19 ACT in math may be provisionally admitted through the state’s summer math program. To earn full admission, these students must enroll in a prescribed mathematics course during the summer prior to full admission and complete the degree-credit mathematics course with a grade of “C” or better and earn at least a 2.5 GPA for the term. Successful students may be fully admitted and allowed to continue. Students who do not meet provisions may not be admitted for the fall semester/term, other than by special exception.

As of June 2015, regional institutions can admit students needing one developmental course, but only two-year institutions and historically black colleges and universities are authorized to teach the developmental courses

In addition to the Regent’s minimum admission standards, institutions may adopt more specific or rigorous requirements for admission or for automatic admission, thus providing a buffer for exceptions to the university standards that still meet the board’s minimum requirements.


State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

The state funds the merit-based Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). Recent high school graduates may qualify for one of four awards.

Students may qualify for the Opportunity Award with a minimum high school grade-point average of 2.5 and ACT Composite score of 20 or higher. To renew the award at the end of freshman year, students must maintain a 2.3 GPA. To renew the award in subsequent years, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 2.5. The award is equal to tuition.

Students may qualify for the Performance Award with a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 and ACT Composite score of 23 or higher. To renew the award after each academic year, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Eligible students receive a tuition award plus a $400 stipend.

Students may qualify for the Honors Award with a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 and ACT Composite score of 27 or higher. To renew the award after each academic year, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Eligible students receive a tuition award plus a $800 stipend.

The TOPS Tech Award provides tuition grants for students attending two-year institutions. Students may qualify for the award with a minimum high school GPA of 2.5 and ACT Composite score of 17 or higher. Students must complete one of two curricular pathway options offered by the state.

Recipients must complete at least 24 credit hours annually to remain eligible for their award. The Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission evaluates continued eligibility at the end of each academic year. Students may regain their scholarship if they meet GPA requirements at the end of the subsequent academic year.


Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

The Louisiana Department of Education publishes state, district and school level data on the number and percentage of individual high school’s graduates who attend college, and of those, rates of students applying in-state and to two- and four- year institutions.