Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

February 21, 2014

Persons can earn equivalency diploma

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — “It is a new world in high school equivalency,” reports Molly Dodge, River Valley Resources, Madison, adult basic education director.

“This is the first time more than one high school equivalency test has been available to states ... (It) has always been based on state requirements, but most people have referred to GED® (General Equivalency Diploma) as the generic title .... Indiana chose McGraw Hill as its new vendor. The assessment is called the Test Assessing Secondary Completion.” However, the test, which became effective Jan. 1, will be referred to as the Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma.

The new exam “will be a better indicator of a student’s readiness for entering postsecondary programs or a career. The rigor of the test will gradually align to the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education over the next three years, which will help students and educators stay focused on fundamentals, while also gradually deepening the level of knowledge required,” she says.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development chose the new assessment because it ensures the state “can offer a high school equivalency test that matches employer demand and is both affordable and accessible. An expert panel of representatives from the Indiana Department of Correction, Indiana Department of Education and IDWD were all involved in evaluating all proposals offered for the test .... (and) Ivy Tech and the Indiana Association of Adult and Continuing Education (representatives) provided expert analysis of the available testing options.

“In order to maintain accessibility, the new exam will continue to be offered in both paper and computer-based formats, ensuring Indiana’s current network of providers, including correctional facilities, will not be disrupted. It will also be available in English, Spanish, Braille and audio versions for the visually impaired,” Dodge points out.

The test assesses five subjects: reading/language arts, writing, mathematics, science and social studies. In order to earn the diploma, a student must demonstrate that he or she is more proficient than 40 percent of seniors who graduate from high school.

Those interested in taking the test must meet certain criteria: They cannot be enrolled or have graduated from high school and must be at least 16 years old. In addition, “16 to 17-year-old students must have an exit form signed by their school principal to take the classes. This form must also be signed by the superintendent before students can take the ... test.”

There are steps a person must take to earn the diploma, Dodge points out. He or she “must take a pretest called the Test of Adult Basic Education,” which is administered by the teacher in the classroom. The results “are used to create individualized education plans for each student. Students are asked to attend classes faithfully. After 12 hours of in-class instruction, a student can receive instruction via RVR’s online instructional tool.”

A post-test is taken following 30-40 hours of instruction to ensure mastery of the concepts. Then “the teacher and student will revise the student’s educational plan. Prior to taking the official test, a student will take an official readiness test in the classroom. Should a student score well and feel ready, he or she will be registered for the Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma test,” Dodge reveals.

“Last semester, 85 percent of our students earned their GED in six to eight weeks.”

In addition, persons may qualify for the WorkINdiana program, which allows individuals to earn this diploma and a career certification at the same time. “Students who have previously received their GED or high school diploma may also qualify for WorkINdiana ... (and) can receive scholarships to attend a short-term occupational training class.” There are no income requirements for these awards.

“WorkINdiana funding can also be used for supportive services, such as transportation, gas cards or child care, but a recipient must demonstrate financial need.”

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.

More information • Classes to prepare for the Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma are held Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at RomWeber Flats, 121 Depot St., Batesville, and at Franklin County Government Center, 1010 Franklin Ave., Room 102, Brookville; Tuesday and Thursday from 5-9 p.m. at Upper Room Education Center, 1250 Franklin Ave., Brookville; and Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Laurel Library, 200 N. Clay St. • There is no fee to take Adult Basic Education classes. River Valley Resources provides these classes through a grant from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The evening class and Laurel class in Franklin County are provided with funding from the Franklin County Community Foundation. "We are grateful to the foundation for this grant to expand our ... offerings in Franklin County," Dodge reveals. • The Department of Workforce Development has capped the cost for paper/pencil and/or computer-based tests at $90. Each includes two free retakes as long as the retests are taken within one year of the initial assessment. Individual testing centers may set their own prices. • River Valley Resources is seeking donations to help assist students with testing fees. "We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and contributions would be tax deductible." • The organization is headquartered at 215 E. Main St., Suite 1, Madison. It provides adult education classes in six southeastern Indiana counties, including Franklin, Ripley, Dearborn, Jefferson, Ohio and Switzerland. The adult basic education hotline is 855-591-7849.