“There are 15 sites in four counties,” said Dr. Terri Dunn, director of adult education at Enterprise State Community College. “We’re not just here at the college. We’re in Coffee County, Dale County, Geneva and Pike. We have 15 sites in those four counties.”

The adult education program offers many resources to its participants. The adult education program at ESCC helps individuals get their GED among other features.

“So we give them a lot of GED preparation,” said Dunn. “We also have English as a second language classes. We have those here on this campus only. We have a program called the high school diploma options program. So instead of getting a GED, students have an opportunity to earn a high school diploma from the last high school they separated from. The last high school they attended in the state of Alabama. So that’s really awesome. This is a new partnership between the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Community College System. Last September, actually was when it was launched.”

Dunn explained that if a student dropped out when their high school exit exam was required they could come to the AEP and get their actual high school diploma.

“Maybe we would have them take a test or we might have them take different parts of the GED test,” said Dunn. “It depends on what their deficiency was when they took that exam. So we help them to build that credit back up. Then they can get their high school diploma.”

There’s also a second option for the high school diploma track for students where they can make up unearned credits that will allow them production toward a high school degree instead of a GED.

Dunn recounted a story about a former student who was able to utilize the track. “We had one student who just cried when she realized that she qualified,” said Dunn. “(The student) said, ‘Now I can wear my class ring.’ Because she thought, ‘We’ve had this money (spent on a ring) and here I’d dropped out.”’ The AEP changes lives for the better. “She’d gotten into some trouble and ended up having to leave school,” said Dunn. “To know that she could actually have her diploma from her high school and get to wear that class ring again meant so much to her. There are so many things that we take for granted that we don’t realize. That was a big deal for her.”

Dunn said that there have been 25 students to get a high school diploma with the AEP over the last year. They issued 109 GEDs and served 862 students. Of those groups there have been 142 who have passed one or more parts of the GED exam, which is four parts. Some may have passed three parts and are working on the fourth. “So we’re definitely seeing a lot of success with the GED exam and also with the high school diploma options program.”

There is another resource option that has begun within the last year and a half and it is the Accelerate Me program. “Accelerate Me, is where students can come to us and we can help them to bypass those remedial courses, so that when they start college, they are actually taking credit bearing courses, courses that count toward their actual degree instead of those that don’t,” said Dunn. “And research shows that about 20 percent of students who place in more than one remedial course, do not succeed in completing a degree program. So, we really want to circumvent that, we want to see them be successful. And, we had in our last class 14 students who bypassed a remedial course. So, we thought that was pretty fantastic.”

A computer assesses a student’s shortcomings and places them in lessons that are catered to helping them improve in those deficiencies. They also get instruction from a teacher to support them in their specific academic needs. The program can be taken more than once so if there are several areas where a student is struggling they can address them in multiple semesters. Along with remedial interventions, the AEP offers courses at three institutionalized adult education sites.

“We have classes at the Geneva County Jail,” said Dunn. “We have a partnership and have classes at The Pathways Juvenile Treatment Center. And then we also have classes at the Elba Work Release Facility.

“The goal of course with those classes is the same thing. You want them to get an education, but you’re hoping to, in turn, reduce the recidivism rate. You want them to have an education, so they can get out, and get a good job. And not, perhaps, be repeat offenders.”

Another resource option from the AEP is the WorkKeys Test that allows students to earn the National Career Readiness Certificate they can take to employers as proof of their capacity to work.

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