AEL classes a pathway to diplomas

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Crowder offers classes for academic gain

A high school diploma can take a person far, and people who miss out on the graduation walk for any reason can still catch up with Cassville Crowder College AEL classes.

Cassville Crowder campus has offered AEL classes since 1999, said Juli Denisco, Crowder Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) director.

“GED is a brand, and we now use the HiSET brand,” she said. “But, the state class is high school equivalency (HSE) so we don’t get stuck with the brand name again.”

Denisco said before the nation went away from the old paper-based GED in 2014, all states used that brand. Now, the test is only given in a computer-based format at an official testing center

Denisco said the HiSET test has increased in rigor from 2014 to 2017 until it met the government’s College and Career Readiness standards.

“AEL is not only charged with the amount of HSE received but it must be tied to HSE plus a job or HSE plus college enrollment,” she said.

Denisco said students range in age from 16 (if court ordered) and 17-97.

“Anyone 21 or older that decides to return to school doesn’t have the option to return to school,” she said. “There are several reasons why our students may have dropped out of high school.

“Our first priority for them is for them to return to high school and graduate with a class. However, for some of them that is not an option.”

Denisco said some students were homeschooled and want to prep for the HiSET before taking the test.

“Our classes are mostly individualized so they get the help they need in the subjects and levels needed,” she said. “Not everyone attending AEL classes are prepping for the HiSET, and many are brushing up on academic skills for college placement tests or to help students with homework.”

Denisco said the only thing that students get charged for is the HiSET test.

“We do have a testing center on the Cassville campus now,” she said. “When a legislation called WIOA (workforce innovation and opportunity act) was passed in 2015, it helped develop AEL toward workforce development not just the HSE certificate.”

Denisco said the combination of workforce and college enrollment is the target.

“During the 2017-2018 academic year, Crowder College had 60.90 percent of its students obtain HSE or enroll in post-secondary education within one year of exit,” she said. “This number next to the Missouri state average of 28.50 percent is significant.”

Denisco said Crowder College also had 40.44 percent of its AEL students enter employment in the fourth quarter, and the Missouri state average was 37.90 percent.

“Crowder did really well against the state,” she said. “Our students, when they leave our program, make more money than the average in Missouri.”

Denisco said it helps so much now that it doesn’t just end when a student gets a GED.

“Instead, it really helps them build their future and be properly prepared for the workforce or college,” she said. “We are charged with being the bridge to those goals, and we love it.”

Denisco said she wants people to know this option is here for them and it is free.

“We are working hard to get people to something better,” she said. “That isn’t always college, sometimes their plans are different, but a job with a career ladder instead of dead ends is what we aim for in that situation.”

Denisco said there is ongoing enrollment for this program.

“We don’t just enroll at the beginning of the semester,” she said. “There are two times a month while the campus is open that people can enroll.”

Denisco said people who enroll need to commit to 40 hours of seat time.

“That isn’t a lot of time,” she said. “The instructor is here 16 hours a week, so that is three weeks of time here.”

Denisco said it is student-driven, so the students take as much time as needed.

“Over the last academic year, there were about 30-40 students who took part in this program,” she said. “It really fluctuates, but for Cassville, that is pretty average.”

Denisco said for every dollar that the government spends in the community for a program like this, the community gets about $60 back in taxes.

“The people who work in our AEL classes are a special kind of people,” she said. “They are passionate about seeing a person get a second chance and succeeding.”

Denisco said Missouri is the highest in the nation in academic gains in 2018 and has held top ranking for the past four years.

For more information about enrolling in AEL classes, people may contact Cassville Crowder College at 417-847-1706.

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