Elementary & Secondary Education
A well-trained, well-educated labor force is the key to a strong economic future. Because of this, the State Department of Education has taken steps to improve the educational system, both secondary and higher, throughout the state.
In 1999, the state of Louisiana introduced its accountability system in order to raise the educational standards by holding schools accountable for student achievement. Progress was first measured in the spring of 1999 with the implementation of the LEAP 21 test.
The LEAP for the 21st Century test (LEAP 21) is the state’s new criterion-reference testing program. These tests measure how well a student has mastered the new content standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics.
Government officials and local school officials have realized that in order to improve their standards more than testing students and hiring qualified teachers is required. To make a difference, they would need to provide effective leadership, commitment, dedication and involve all parties in an effort to coordinate efforts and resources to areas of need.
Aside from testing, other programs have been implemented. Over $19 million was awarded to local school systems for the continuation of the K-3 Reading and Mathematics Initiative, targeting students who are at risk of experiencing difficulty in these subjects. Additionally, $15 million was secured through Reading Excellence grants for Pre-K professional development, tutoring and parent training in early reading programs. The Class-Size Reduction Program, funded by over $29 million from the US Department of Education is helping to improve student learning by hiring additional highly qualified teachers, especially in grades 1-3.
These efforts at the state level appear to be paying off. ACT scores are approaching the national level and fewer students entering college are being required to take developmental (remedial) courses.
Colleges & Universities
Learning Center for Rapides Parish
The Board of Regents’ Learning Center for Rapides Parish is comprised of post-secondary institutions from throughout Louisiana and beyond. The largest institution of its kind in the state, The Rapides Learning Center offers residents of central Louisiana quality educational opportunities in a state-of-the-art non-traditional instructional environment.
The Center serves as a gateway to numerous post secondary institutions with more than 52% of its courses taught via compressed video and offers a wireless campus environment with student laptop check-out procedures. Courses are scheduled to meeting the working students needs and the Center features a library, which remains open during the evening hours with internet connected computers.
The selection of academic programs offered ranges from developmental courses, certificate programs, associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees and graduate degrees, as well as continuing education options.
Northwestern State University
Founded in 1884 as the Louisiana State Normal School, to train teachers, Northwestern State University expanded to become the first school in Louisiana to offer degree programs in nursing and business education.
Today degrees are offered in more than 50 areas. Staying up to date on the latest trends in the job market, the university has recently developed degree programs in computer information systems, hospitality management and tourism, criminal justice and liberal arts.
NSU was one of the first six colleges and in the country to enter into a Joint Venture Program (JOVE) with NASA. Participants in the JOVE Program work closely with NASA-trained scientists to develop research and analyze data provided by NASA.
NSU’s diverse student body is made up of residents from all 64 parishes in Louisiana and more than 70,000 alumni in all 50 states and 50 foreign countries.
NSU is located in Natchitoches, approximately 40 miles northwest of Alexandria. The city of approximately 20,000, provides the advantages of a small town along with accessibility to larger cities.
Louisiana College, founded at Pineville, Louisiana in 1906, is the successor to two earlier Louisiana Baptist schools, Mt. Lebanon University and Keatchie Female College. The enrollment of students in 1906 at the opening of the college was 19. To date, more than 9,000 students have graduated from LC. The college currently offers degrees in 20 areas.
LC has grown to become one of the most recognized colleges in the south. The university has been Recognized for Academic Excellence. Barron's Best Buys in College Education says "The departments of biology, chemistry and physics, and mathematics are each 'very, very competitive,' and focus on providing thorough preparation in these fields. Professors in English and History rank among LC's shining stars; the business faculty are also known for pushing students to excel." It has included LC in all three editions of its prestigious guide to the three hundred best colleges/university values in the nation.
Louisiana College, despite being a private institution, has been Recognized for Outstanding Value. U.S. News ranked Louisiana College as the #2 "Best Value" among Southern Liberal Arts Colleges according to "Sticker Price."
Louisiana State University at Alexandria
Louisiana State University at Alexandria is located six miles south of Alexandria on what was originally Oakland Plantation.
Established first in 1955 as the Dean Lee Agriculture Center, LSUA was formally established by the State legislature in 1959 as a two-year college under the governance of the LSU Board of Supervisors, after the U. S. Congress released the land for general educational purposes. LSUA registered its first students in September 1960. The sophomore curriculum was added in 1961. In 2001, the State legislature voted to make LSUA a four-year degree granting institution.
In 1964, an associate degree program in nursing was initiated in the Division of Nursing and in 1967, the additional academic divisions of Liberal Arts, Business Administration, and Science were created. LSUA recently graduated its first class of four-year degreed students and continues to expand its degree offerings.
The campus is in a state of transformation as new classrooms, parking and on-campus housing are either in the planning or construction phases. As part of the LSU system, LSUA stands alongside Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, the University of New Orleans, the LSU Medical Center, and the LSU Law Center, the LSU Agricultural Center, LSU in Shreveport, and LSU at Eunice in providing public higher education opportunities to the people of central Louisiana.
Louisiana Technical College Alexandria Campus
Located throughout the region, these schools offer a variety of job skill training courses in numerous areas including: automobile body repair, air conditioning, welding, sheet metal, nursing and electronics.
Courses taken for credit can lead to an Associate of Applied technology degree or a diploma. Classes are offered both day and night.
Enrollment trends at the Alexandria campus indicates most students are studying in the areas of Allied Health and Business/Office Occupations and Data Processing. Other areas of enrollment were automotive /transportation technology, electronics, welding/metal workers, construction trades, basic skills/general education, drafting, mechanics and repair, and computer and information sciences. The establishment of a CISCO Academy at this campus should help to increase the number of students enrolled in the area of computer and information sciences.
The Avoyelles campus mimics the Alexandria campus with allied health and office occupations and data processing having the highest enrollment figures. In addition, students were also enrolled in family and consumer science. Evangeline Parish students concentrate on the areas of Office/Office Occupations and Data processing, followed by Allied Health and Mechanics and Repair. Natchitoches Parish enrollment is typically higher in the areas of Office/Office Occupations & Data Processing and Family and Consumer Science, followed by Mechanics & Repair. In addition to enrollment in the same courses as Alexandria, students were also studying Criminal Justice and Corrections and Tourism and Hospitality Promotion.
Not surprisingly, the Oakdale campus sees its highest concentration in the area of Criminal Justice and Corrections. Close behind are Family and Consumer Science and Agriculture.
The Technical College system continues to work with employers to address their industrial needs.