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KCSD to offer GED transition program

Posted: February 7, 2013 5:55 p.m.
Updated: February 8, 2013 5:00 a.m.

A new pilot program may help students who are behind in earning high school credits pursue a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). The program is the result of a team-up between the Kershaw County School District’s (KCSD) Continuous Learning Center (CLC) and the district’s Adult Education program.

If successful, the program would be made available to all KCSD students. In the meantime, students 16 years of age and older at CLC who are behind in earning their high school credits can transition into the Adult Education’s GED program with written permission of their parent or guardian.

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees unanimously approved the pilot program at its meeting Tuesday.

 Students will take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) pre-test and begin working their way through 30 hours of classroom instruction on CLC’s campus to prepare for the GED and WorkKeys, a work readiness certificate. Upon completion of the classroom hours, student will take the TABE post-test. If the student is “deemed to be at an appropriate level of preparation” the students will be withdrawn from CLC, with the superintendent’s permission, and enrolled in the Adult Education program to finish instruction in preparation for the WorkKeys and the GED testing. A student would need a score of at least 567 of the Reading portion of the post-TABE to meet eligibility for the Official Practice Test (OPT) of the GED.  A student would be eligible to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) with a “bronze level” score on WorkKeys.  If the student scores at the “silver level” and a high score on the OPT, they will be recommended to take the GED test. KCSD Director for Adult Education & Parenting Weyland Burns said the tests are evaluations to determine a student’s readiness for GED testing. The NCRC is a nationally recognized certificate that is currently being tracked on a website in each county through WorkReady Community steering committees, Burns said.

 If a student does not meet post-test requirements, they will take another 30 hours of courses and take another post-test. All eligible students will have to provide their own transportation to the GED program, pay accompanying fees (about $30) and attend a program orientation. Additionally, students will receive academic counseling to help them with post-secondary studies.

One of the program’s incentives is that students who pass their GED during the regular school year will have the option of walking in their home high school graduation, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said.

“A GED isn’t the end of the line anymore; we want them to go beyond. The idea is to get kids to a diploma who might not get one the ‘standard way,’” Morgan said. “Walking with their class at graduation is a major motivator. This is another chance for students to take care of unfinished business.”

Morgan said that it is important to help students make the transition while they are already enrolled in the district’s schools.

Burns has spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to reconstruct Adult Education, Morgan said. Burns said his staff would train teachers at CLC in the GED and Work Keys curriculum so that they are able to effectively teach everything that would be needed before they take the TABE post-test. Adult Education has developed a manual to help facilitate the transition, Burns said.

“We want them to engage” Burns said. “We have stronger connections to Central Carolina -- we want them to go further than a GED, and now we have the ability to help students who need to go on a different path.”

There has been a stigma associated with the Adult Education program -- that it is for older learners. Last June, however, Burns presented the board with information about the Adult Education program’s “Just Around the Corner” program seeking younger adults for the GED program. The idea is to target students who would seek a GED later in life, at an earlier age.

Trustee Nissary Wood said her only concern was that students might think a GED would be an easier path. She doesn’t want the district to give up on those who might be able to transition back into their home school, she said.

Burns said their academic counseling will help determine the best route for the students and the option of finishing high school isn’t taken off the table. Before students are permitted to transition into the Adult Education program with a parent/guardian signature, a counseling session will be held by the school and a member of the adult education transition specialist to determine the number of credits a student needs to graduate, their age and the best interest of the student.

“We try to make sure (the students) and the parents are OK with whatever path they choose,” Burns said.

Also Tuesday, the board continued to talk about legislation that may affect their budget and general operations for the upcoming year.

A mandated, unfunded step increase for teachers is still a concern, in addition to looming sequestration that could cost the district $365,000. In addition, a voucher bill might allow school districts to allow school choice to students in and outside of the county; the state could require students to have Memorial and Veteran’s Day off from school; and State Rep. Laurie Funderburk and State Sen. Vincent Sheheen have offered legislation that would require 4-K programs.

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