The Academy of Information Technology at Carencro High School has become a model for schools across the country and could be chosen as one of 20 campuses in the country for a special study.
Studies like the one AOIT is up for and the evidence it could provide can influence policy and legislation as Congress looks to renew the No Child Left Behind Act.
Members of the National Academy Foundation, of which AOIT is a member, and a nonprofit research and policy organization called MDRC, toured the Carencro High School campus Tuesday to see what the school is doing that works and to see what the school can do to improve.
"We know this is a good academy. How do we make them really great?" said a project director for the National Academy Foundation, Jon Reinhard.
Janet Quint, a senior research associate with MDRC, met with students and teachers Tuesday. She works to identify strong schools and make them even stronger using research. The proposed project will track students in and out of the academy for four years.
"We can then understand the difference that investing in an academy makes in improving students outcome," she said.
Two things that could improve the future for students are academies and smaller learning communities, according to national and state level conversations about how to better reach students.
The Academy is both. Both are concepts that are cropping up in national education talks as the renewal of NCLB nears and in Louisiana as the state works to revamp high schools to make them more relevant, keep kids in school and prepare them for the future.
Academies are themed schools - like Schools of Choice in Lafayette Parish -which center around special interests in the hope of keeping kids in school and successful by integrating something in which they are interested into all parts of their curriculum and giving them tools for higher education or the workplace.
Students are getting that workplace experience before they graduate from high school with an internship program that is part of their curriculum.