Louisiana's Taylor Opportunity Program for Students -- or TOPS -- is a financial assistance award for resident students who attend an in-state post-secondary school. Students must attend a school full time that is a member of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. To qualify for a TOPS financial assistance award, all students must complete state-specified curriculum requirements in high school before graduation.
Of the 19 units students must take under the TOPS Core Curriculum, they must complete four English classes. This includes English I, II and III courses. Students must also complete their fourth English class by taking either English IV or business English or senior applications in English.
Similar to the English requirement, TOPS students must also complete four units of mathematics. This requirement includes one unit of algebra I, integrated mathematics or applied algebra I. If the school divides algebra classes into two sections, students must complete either parts one and two of algebra I, applied mathematics I and II or applied algebra 1A and 1B. Students must also complete an algebra II or integrated mathematics II course and two units in either geometry, precalculus, calculus, advanced math precalculus, applied mathematics III, advanced math-functions and statistics, algebra III, integrated mathematics III or discrete mathematics.
The TOPS Core Curriculum requires four units of science. High school students must take one unit of biology I or II, one unit of chemistry I or II and two units of Earth sciences, according to the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance. Instead of Earth sciences, students may substitute two units of physical science, integrated science, physics for technology, anatomy and physiology, physics or a higher level biology or chemistry course.
Louisiana students who are applying for TOPS awards must complete one unit of U.S. history under the social studies core requirements. Students must also take an additional unit of civics and free enterprises or one academic year of civics. Advanced placement students may take one unit of AP government and politics that focuses on the United States. To complete the social studies core curriculum, high school students must take two units of either world history, world geography, history of religion, AP human geography, western civilizations or the history of religion.
The remaining three core curriculum units for TOPS students include two in a foreign language and one in the fine arts. Students must complete both units of foreign language in the same language. For example, if you take Spanish for a year, you must take a second year for it to count towards the TOPS core. The fine arts unit may include a performance, visual or studio art as well as speech III and IV. Students who choose to take speech must take both III and IV courses.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.