July | August 2017







Back to School: High Schools for Adults Offer Pathway to Diploma 

By Lisa McKinney, CSG communications associate
Missouri residents who’ve aged out of high school without graduating now have a second chance to earn their diploma by attending one of four planned high schools for adults. Under House Bill 93, signed by Gov. Eric Greitens in July, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can authorize a nonprofit that would create and operate the schools for residents over age 21.
The idea behind the legislation is that adults should have the opportunity to get a high school diploma, rather than a high school equivalency certificate. The bill’s supporters said they believed people with diplomas have an advantage in the job market over those with high school equivalency certificates.
The schools are also planning on offering job training programs, industry certification and onsite child care. The nonprofit chosen by the state’s Department of Education charged with running the schools will be required to invest $2 million of its own funds for facilities.
“With workforce challenges remaining a top concern of Missouri employers, it’s critical that we are doing everything we can to empower our citizens to get themselves ready for work,” Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Director Daniel Mehan said in a statement.
In 2015, the Washington, D.C., Board of Education approved a resolution directing education officials to draft regulations that would allow students who pass the GED exam to receive a high school diploma.
Board members said they hoped that offering adults who pass the high school equivalency test a diploma, rather than a certificate, would lessen the stigma around GED certificate recipients and remove barriers to employment.
The GED test was overhauled in 2014 to align with the Common Core State Standards and the content is now considered more difficult. In order to pass, test takers must outperform about 40 percent of students who graduate from high school. That same year, several states selected a new high school equivalency test to replace the GED exam.
Maryland also gives residents who pass the GED exam a high school diploma. Their external diploma program, or EDP, gives adults the option to earn a high school diploma with no classroom instruction. Participants must demonstrate academic and functional life skills, including skills related to occupational preparedness by creating an online portfolio to be reviewed by an assessor.
"If you look at employer surveys, the things that employers generally most look for or think are important, especially at lower-end jobs, are the things like perseverance and tenacity, and those kinds of qualities are not measured by the GED," Russell Rumberger, professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told NPR.
Rumberger said a high school diploma indicates to employers that you went to school and did the work, while a GED is a shortcut. A diploma shows commitment, perseverance and follow-through.
"The GED is better than no credential for a dropout, but it's not as good as a diploma. It doesn't replace a diploma, in terms of labor market outcomes," said Rumberger.