Thursday, September 30, 2010

Census Data Warn that Student Goals Must Reach Beyond the GED

A new report from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute reveals the uneven impact that the recession has had on the district.  DCFPI finds two trends that are particularly disturbing for our learners.  They write:
One in four residents with a high school diploma lives in poverty.  Among residents with a high school diploma or GED, poverty increased from 20 percent in 2007 to 25 percent in 2009.   Changes in poverty for other residents at other education levels were not statistically significant.
The new Census data show that incomes are likely to be falling for DC residents with a high school diploma or less. From 2007 to 2009, median earnings for adults with less than a high school diploma fell from $23,300 to $20,400.  Those with a high school diploma or GED also saw a decline in earnings, from $29,000 in 2008 to $26,200 in 2009.  Earnings remained virtually unchanged for those with some college or beyond.  

These facts offer a grim outlook for learners hoping to better themselves financially after earning their GED.  They highlight what has long been an understanding at Academy of Hope: that the GED is only the first step in an adult learner's pursuit of their goals.

In 2008, AoH began to offer the Pathways to Success program to help non-traditional students transition to college or workforce training. Since that time, AoH has worked towards the goal of becoming a place where students of any academic level can receive the support they need, up through entry into college or other training.

Many adult learners sense that the job climate is worsening and know that they need to set long term goals.  For years, AoH students have been asked to identify a personal goal, outside of the GED, at the beginning of each term.  More and more these goals have become specifically career-focused.  At this Fall's orientation, one student said she hopes to eventually become a nurse, another wants to pursue an Associate's degree in the criminal justice field.  College seems like a long way off for a student struggling to prepare for the GED, but step-by-step they make their way.  Given the current economic climate, adult learners can't afford to think small.

Look for in-depth coverage of the ways Academy of Hope is working with learners beyond the GED in the upcoming Fall 2010 Newsletter.

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