Getting focused and getting over the finish line
At Metro North ABE, our mission is to teach the skills needed to succeed as responsible citizens in our changing world. This means our classes cover a wide range of important topics that learners need to know to be responsible citizens. But sometimes, our learners are better served by focusing on one thing at a time. Many adults are looking to pass the General Educational Development test (GED) to receive a high school equivalency and they may be just one test away from graduating.
In order to complete the GED, learners must complete four separate tests: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Math. A learner can choose which test to take first and we recommend they work on one at a time until they complete all four. Each test can take up to an hour and a half and cover a wide range of skills to demonstrate adults have a high school equivalency of knowledge.
With the experience Metro North ABE gained while moving online, we have created a special cohort of classes to help learners cross the finish line. In the fall of 2021, we created a consortium-wide GED class for each subject. Learners work with one literacy assistant for all four subjects, helping them decide which class to register for, marking their progress, helping register for the GED test, and helping them move from one class to the next. Teachers who are skilled in a specific subject lead online classes for any learner in our consortium, regardless of which school is closest to them. Our teachers, Donna Escobedo (math), Susan Clark (science), Jessie Smelter (reading/ language arts), and David Tackett (social studies), teach at the same times in the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so learners don’t have to change their schedules when transitioning from one subject to the next.
For this pilot, we enrolled learners that had already taken classes with us. As we continue to expand the program, we look forward to having learners that are new to Metro North ABE enroll. These consortium level classes could be a way to draw learners who only need to brush up on one subject to complete their GED.
In the first year, 38 learners participated. “It’s not for every learner,” said Donna Escobedo. “It is definitely a fast-track. But being online and focused on one subject appeals to a lot of learners, especially to those who are close to being done!”
Ines needed online classes that fit her schedule. She started at Metro North in 2016, but due to scheduling conflicts, she couldn’t continue. Once Metro North moved all classes online during the pandemic, Becky Hopper, a literary assistant at Blaine, reached out to Ines and told her about the new online classes. Ines jumped at the chance to return to classes and made getting her GED a priority. The online option fit her schedule and allowed her to make progress quicker.
“I was searching around. No place offered online only,” said Ines. “I like to learn, but going to a class isn’t possible for me right now. I didn’t have the opportunity when I was young. I only went to the 6th grade. I always wanted to get my GED.”
Ines took her last class to prepare for her GED in Donna’s math class. She continues to attend even after completing her GED. “I really like math, especially with my children and helping with their homework. I would like to take some college classes, so I’m working on my college entrance test now.”
Learners in the consortium-wide classes, and others, have shared that the focused online classes are very popular. “I think it has been good for our family,” Ines said. “My husband registered for online classes, and we graduated at the same time. My mother likes to learn English so she is taking classes online too. I started four people with online classes. Even my youngest son sat next to me when the police officer joined our class to talk about public safety in the New Americans Academy. My whole family loves to learn!”