District’s Open Doors program adds new test prep, credits for GED students

ARLINGTON – Arlington Public Schools’ Open Doors Reengagement Program gives students who left school or are at risk of dropping out a path to getting their diploma or GED.

For those aiming to attain their GED, the school board approved the ResCare Academy online learning program and more tools that will not only help prepare students for the final certificate test; it will earn them credits.

“The new piece is that now students earn high school transcripted credit for the prep courses and for successfully passing each component of the GED testing,” Weston High School principal Will Nelson said.

“With credits applied to their transcripts, there is also a trail showing their determination for a better station in life,” he said.

The program based at Weston for ages 16-21 prepares students to take and pass GED tests in Science, Social Studies, Math and English Language Arts.

The program pretests students in each subject area, then creates individualized learning plans for the student based on pretest results, said Kari Henderson-Burke, executive director of Teaching and Learning.

Based on scores, students could be put in “pre-GED” units where they master basic skills and knowledge necessary for success in the GED prep section. Or, they can go directly to the GED prep section that prepares them for the content and types of questions on the GED test. Some subjects catapult students to the “GED Advanced” level.

Instruction is delivered in small chunks using a classroom of virtual adult learners and an avatar teacher to help students, Henderson-Burke said.

The program monitors progress in real time and tells students when they are “ready to test,” she said.

The district would award GED students up to one credit for each GED certificate test passed, for a total of four credits, and extra half-credits for completing courses of study to prepare for the GED tests, bringing the total to seven.

Henderson-Burke said she likes the credit-bearing adjustment to the Open Doors GED program because allows students to earn credit in an area they have been able to before.

“Kids can participate in GED coursework, and earning credit allows them to not fall so far behind in a 24-credit system if they change back to a traditional diploma program,” Henderson-Burke said.

There is no cost to the district. The program is funded through the state Work Force Development Office and a federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant.

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