Stacey successfully completed the Family & Children’s Services Women in Recovery (WIR) program and looked forward to enrolling in an RBT (registered veterinarian technician) program. She loved her job at a local veterinarian’s office. But there was one obstacle she would soon face – passing the mathematics exam to obtain her GED (General Education Development) so that she could go further with her education.
Initially, Stacey thought she had already obtained the GED from a previous program she enrolled in 2007. But after viewing her educational records at WIR, Shelley learned that she did not pass the math exam.
Stacey also learned that GED scoring and requirements had changed. Although she did well in other subjects, she had to retake the entire test again. Stacey was devastated, but her determination to pursue further education and conquer the “giant” of test anxiety pushed her to enroll in the WIR GED program.
Although Stacey obtained additional tutoring sessions on math from tutor Shelley Stege, she did not pass the exam. But Stacey would not give up. It was not required, but Stacey attended the weekly 8 a.m. math classes in addition to tutoring.
After five attempts, Stacey not only passed the math exam with excellence but obtained the highest math score ever in the GED program at WIR. To help Stacey ease her testing anxiety that day, her tutor Shelley took her to lunch, and then to the test site, where she stayed until Stacey completed her exam.
Statistics show that the higher the level of education, the risk of recidivism is reduced. The Department of Labor reports that individuals (with a GED or high school diploma) now earn up to $3.85 more per hour than those without a high school diploma or GED.
With access, every WIR GED student who enrolls completes a TABE (Testing Adult Basic Education) test, an assessment tool that allows WIR to identify the gaps in the student’s educational knowledge and assists with proper classroom placement. Students also have access to an online portal to use at any time to work independently on coursework outside of classroom instruction. Each student retakes the TABE test every 40 hours (about 1 and a half days) of completed GED programming.
The GED program at WIR had operated remotely since March 2020. In September 2020, WIR partnered with Union Public Schools to continue the GED program by using the school district’s technology resources. Four volunteers and two Union Public School instructors tutored students via distance learning each morning Monday through Friday on Zoom. Class sizes are smaller, consisting of three to 10 students.
As the program transitioned back to in person classes this year, WIR staff implemented a few adjustments.
“We have used some of the best practices we have learned during the pandemic,” said Lani Burns, WIR Employment & Education Supervisor. “We now offer the GED program in a hybrid model. Some of our instructors are not able to attend in person, so they are teaching via Zoom daily. This way, our students have access to them more often. We have kept the longer class times and the smaller class sizes as well.”
Burns said three classes (characterized by learning level) are held each day at the same time. For example, there are beginner, immediate and advanced math courses. “We do this so that learning is tailored to where the students are,” she said.
There are plans in the works to strengthen the program and assist WIR clients who wish to pursue higher education – just as Stacey did.