ON EDUCATING LARUE: 28 to graduate from GED program

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By Ron Benningfield

 At 6 p.m. June 18 at LaRue County High School, LaRue County Board of Education and school personnel, relatives, and friends will celebrate the accomplishment of several students who have earned their GED (general education development) diplomas this year in LaRue's Adult Education Program.

“We have 28 graduates,” said Sarah Hornback, director of family services. “We never know how many are actually going to participate in the GED ceremony.”

The GED, developed in 1942 to enable returning veterans the opportunity to earn a high school credential, has given hundreds of LaRue Countians, millions nationwide, a diploma which allows them to enroll in college or to seek better paying jobs in an age when most businesses require at least a high school education for employment.

Students enroll for a variety of reasons, according to Hornback. Some already have a diploma and simply need to improve their skills for their jobs or higher education.  Others come so they can help their children with homework. Still others enroll with the ultimate goal of receiving their GED.

“Students come in at all levels and with different amounts of time and energy to devote to their education, so there is no ‘rule’ as to how long it will take someone to reach their goals,” Hornback said.

When a student first comes in, Adult Education staff give them a short locator test to determine their educational level and to save them time that would be wasted if they were given something too hard or too easy. 

Depending on the results of the locator test, the students take the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) to create a student-learning plan, or they're tested with a pre-GED test.

Melcenia Sprowls-Shelton, Bob Ernst, Garry Ross and Hornback instruct each student in 50 hours of classwork and homework. They then reassess to determine progress and new areas of need. Rosa Kelley is the instructional assistant. 

In LaRue County this year, the average age of the adult ed student is 31. The district's cumulative statistics show 62 percent male students, 38 percent females. Corrections students account for about 36 percent of enrollment this year with Ross as the primary instructor for the LaRue County Detention Center.

“Our oldest student this year was 70; our youngest was 17,” said Hornback.

Nationwide, nearly half of those passing the GED test (42.7 percent) had been out of school for two years or less, and almost one in five(18.2 percent) was last enrolled in school three to five years ago. LaRue had 15 percent out of school for two years or less, with 12 percent last enrolled in school three to five years ago.

The statistics are staggering: more than 860,000 adults worldwide take the GED tests each year. One out of every seven high school diplomas issued each year in the United States is based on passing the GED tests. In Kentucky, it is one out of five

Kentucky's GED enrollment eligibility requirements demand that students be at least 17 years old and be officially withdrawn from school for at least a year, or their last enrolled class must have graduated. Superintendents may grant 16-year-old students with extenuating circumstances permission to take the test.

LaRue has worked this year under “managed enrollment.” Hornback explained that in small counties such as LaRue, adult education has traditionally been individualized tutoring with a drop-in schedule.

“We now use a managed enrollment system where most of our classes have a specific start and end date with expectations on attendance, homework, and progress,” Hornback said. “Students may re-enroll in a session or move on to the next session as they progress.”

Research indicates that adults who set and meet goals and who attend class regularly are more likely to achieve their GED and succeed in post-secondary education. 

All services and materials are free. The GED tests are also at no cost through June 30. Classes are offered in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings.

For more information, contact Hornback at the LaRue County Learning Center 270-358-8334 weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.