Chattahoochee Technical College’s adult education program proves consistent

By JAMES SEARS

Chattahoochee Technical College’s adult education program sees consistent success among students despite a revised GED test format, reduced staff and the transition from paper tests to computerized tests.

The adult education program at Chattahoochee Tech prepares students who want to earn their General Education Diploma  through classes that teach four subjects that are on the test, which, according to GED.com, include “Reasoning Through Language Arts,” “Mathematical Reasoning,” “Science” and “Social Studies.”

Though the GED test has seen many changes that have affected studying in the program, its success rate remains constant. Cynthia Dempsey, the data manager of the adult literacy department at Chattahoochee Tech, said that, out of 934 students, the success-rate for students attempting to earn their GED is at 88.9 percent.

“We have a very good pass-rate,” Dempsey said. “It’s just getting the staffing and getting the students in here and getting them prepared that’s the main issue.”

Dempsey said that more students have been attending classes and attributes this to strict attendance policies.

“If you stay in the class and you come every day, you stay in, but if you lay out a couple

of days and you don’t half-try, then you’re out,” Dempsey said. “Students are perceiving more value in the classes, since you could get kicked out.”

Despite the program’s success, the lack of federal and state funding had triggered a reduction in staff. Adult education instructor Rebecca Wilke said at one point the reduced budget resulted in the reduction from more than 20 instructors to 11 instructors.

“We had to let a number of wonderful teachers go and that was a really hard time,” Wilkesaid.

Dempsey said the adult education program currently has 26 instructors.

In previous years the program has seen many changes that have affected studying for the GED test, such as its computerization in 2013, which has resulted in discomfort among some students. Wilke said that the adult education program has no specialized classes that teach computer operation, however the program tries to accommodate students who are uncomfortable with using a computer.

Rebecca Wilke, instructor of adult education. Photo by James Sears.
Rebecca Wilke, instructor of adult education.
Photo by James Sears.

“We try to work with [computers] as part of our classroom curriculum and get students comfortable so that when they go to the test they are able to perform without a lot of stress,” Wilke said.

Wilke said the test was revised in January 2014 and is now based on Norma Webb’s depth of knowledge.

“The new test is Webb’s depth of knowledge, which means that not only do you have to know the mechanics of how things operate in math and science, but you got to be able to apply and decide which strategy you’re going to use to solve that word problem,” Wilke said.

Wilke said that 55 percent of the test consists of algebra and the new format results in better preparation for college and the workplace.

A majority of students who attend Chattahoochee Tech’s adult education program are over the age of 18.

Dempsey said the majority of students are between the ages of 25 and 44.

“Our largest group of students over here is between the age of 25 and 44,” Dempsey said.

“These are people who have been out of the work place for a while and found themselves unemployed or needing to get an upgrade in their job and can’t do it without a GED.”

Wilke said that the adult education program is an alternative for those not attending high school.

“It’s really an alternative to the traditional high school path that people need to have open

to them because if they’re not in that system of the public school or the private school, then this is the way to get to college,” Wilke said. “It’s the way to finish their education before they go on.”

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