Does a High School Diploma Add Labor Market Value to the GED?

Interesting reporting here, deep inside a story on D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s strategies to improve the D.C. graduation rates, on the debate over whether GED passers in the District of Columbia should be awarded a high school diploma, instead of the high school equivalency credential that is currently awarded:

During a meeting with OSSE officials this month, some board members had questions about the proposal to give a diploma, rather than a credential, to students who pass the GED. As of early December, 374 D.C. residents had taken the GED this year.In the District, you must be 18 to take the test, and many test-takers are older. But the shift could have a significant effect on graduation rates at alternative schools that offer GED preparation classes, such as Ballou STAY, which reported a 4 percent four-year graduation rate in 2013.

Currently, 13 states, including Maryland, award diplomas to those who pass the GED. City officials maintain that those who pass the test are demonstrating the same cognitive skills and abilities as a high school graduate, and a diploma could give them a better chance at getting a job or pursuing higher education.The GED was revised this year to align with Common Core academic standards, and the threshold for passing the test is based on how a sample of high school graduating seniors perform on it.

“I think it’s a valid approach, but I don’t think it’s the same” as actually attending and finishing high school, Laura Slover, an outgoing board member from Ward 3, said during a State Board meeting this month. She recommended that if GED recipients receive a diploma, they should be reported separately.

Some research shows that although GED test-takers can demonstrate comparable cognitive skills, they are less likely to demonstrate life skills such as perseverance that students develop by reporting to school day in and day out.

Great reporting by the Post‘s Michael Alison Chandler. A helpful primer on the issue not just in D.C. but in other states where this discussion is also taking place.

I’m not close to the local D.C. adult education scene anymore, so no special insights here, but I would just add a couple of quick thoughts:

  • Does the fact that the neighboring state of Maryland does award a high school diploma to GED graduates put D.C. GED recipients at a competitive disadvantage? I have no idea, but it’s sort of implied above.
  • There is much enthusiasm in the adult education policy world over initiatives that provide high school or high school equivalency faster for those who have dropped out of school, and in my limited anecdotal experience, not a lot of discussion about the quality and value of such initiatives for students over the long-term. If your system tends to use the number of diplomas or credentials awarded as the primary metric for assessing such initiatives, that’s not surprising.
  • I get that for someone who dropped out of school, earning a diploma quickly may be attractive, and thus encourage more dropouts to return to school, but I would think dual enrollment opportunities that offer opportunities for earning college credit while working toward that diploma (or equivalent) would do the same, and potentially have more lasting value. In any case, evidence that either really works as a motivating factor would be helpful.

Los Angeles Public Library to Offer High School Equivalency Program

AP reporter Julie Watson reports that the Los Angeles Public Library will be partnering with educational publisher Cengage Learning to offer a high school diploma program for adults and out-of-school youth—reportedly the first time a public library system has offered such a program. The library hopes to grant high school diplomas to 150 adults in the first year.

According to Watson, the library’s director, John Szabo, has already introduced 850 online courses for continuing education and  a program that helps immigrants complete the requirements for U.S. citizenship.

It ail be interesting to see how this all plays out. It’s clear from Cengage’s press release that they expect to bring the program to other public libraries across the country.

It also marks the entry of Cengage Learning into the high school equivalency credential market.

Found: A Sequester Cut to Adult Education

For a variety of reasons, which I won’t go into here, it’s been difficult to identify adult education program cuts that are clearly the direct result of sequestration. But they have been happening:

WALTHAM — The City Council on Monday night argued back and forth over funds for an adult literacy program that saw its federal funding cut last year, ultimately sending the request back to committee and asking the School Department to try to come up with the money.

The Power Program, a nonprofit adult literacy organization, has been in existence for 27 years, but had its funding cut last year after there were across-the-board educational cuts on the federal level. (my emphasis)

via Wicked Local Waltham.

More on San Antonio’s Foolish Decision to Cut Its Adult Education Investment

The San Antonio Express-News has been doing a good job covering San Antonio’s shortsighted decision to close the city’s Community Learning Centers. Here’s the latest, from columnist Josh Brodesky:

The city that has made national news for its investment in pre-K education is getting out of the adult-ed biz.

“The city does not place a priority on adult literacy,” Carolyn Heath said. “Kids are cute. Adults have baggage. Adults are complicated. Its ugly. Its messy.”

For years, the city has operated adult learning centers. It would handle building operations and education providers would provide the teaching. The centers serve about 8,000 students a year.

But at the end of the year, the city is calling it quits. The move will save millions of dollars over the next two years, and potentially send thousands of students scrambling.

Of course, that two-year savings will end up costing the city much, much more in the long run, while simultaneously sabotaging it’s investment in early learning. It isn’t a question of priority—you have to do both.