Standard Adult High School Diploma Task Force

Adult Diploma Reflection: Vermont Adult Diploma Program

Model: Vermont

What it is: Describing the Model’s Details

Key Questions to Answer:

A. What information is key to understanding this model that was not included in the brief at the meeting?

• The Vermont Adult Diploma is designed for adults age 20+, however a waiver can be obtained to serve 18 and 19 year olds. The waiver is obtained through the local high schools. Another thing to note is that Vermont does not have the same age cut-off that Minnesota does regarding high school funding. Students can attend high school past the age of 21 in Vermont if necessary.

• The other 2 diploma options in Vermont are to finish off remaining high school credits, or earn a GED.

• Cut scores for the Vermont Adult Diploma are NRS level 4 to begin demonstrating competency through the project based learning.

• If someone does not meet the cut scores initially, they are referred to lower-level ABE programming to bring those scores up and are allowed to attempt testing again to enter the diploma program

• This diploma option is very flexible for adult learners. The learners complete 5 of 11 projects to demonstrate the required standards. The learners choose from the 11 projects that the instructors have set up. One project is a capstone, which allows for learners to choose and create their own project.

• The timeframe is flexible. Learners meet with their instructors weekly to review their progress towards completing the projects.

B. Does this model provide for credit for prior learning, demonstrated competency, multiple learning opportunities/coursework, etc.?

• The website tells us that there is the ability to demonstrate competency through Project Based Learning and students choose 5 of 11 projects.

• The website also mentions that students demonstrate their skills through work experience and the employer may be able to verify skills.

C. How does this model meet the needs of Minnesota’s adults?

• This program would be flexible for adult learners who need to work, care for their children and other responsibilities.

• The program would allow learners to individualize their learning path, and prepare for their specific career pathway.

D. How do its standards compare to ABE standards?

• The Vermont staff explained that these projects and EFF Standards have been cross-walked with the CCRS and Vermont high school standards.

E. How do its standards compare to Minnesota’s K-12 standards?
F. How does this model compare to other models explored?

• This model is very similar to what is happening in Mankato ABE and other programs that use EFF Standards in their adult diploma programs.

How it works: Describing the Model’s Implementation

Key Questions to Answer:

How could this model be implemented in Minnesota?

• I believe this model could be implemented easily in Minnesota. Some programs already have programs very similar to this going on (Mankato, VOA)

• ABE Programs could use the GED time to work with the students on their projects. For example, when students come to GED class, they could be working on either GED skills OR the projects for the Adult Diploma.

• Allowing students to work on either diploma projects OR GED would not change the programming structure for the very rural programs.

• Providing online learning options for projects or portions of projects would allow MN programs to collect proxy hours for work done outside of the classroom.

• Local districts could adopt the standards and grant the diploma through the local school district. If each consortium had one district that was willing to grant the diploma, they could just use one of the districts in the consortia to be the diploma granting agency.

What roles are needed to appropriately implement this model both at the state and local level?

• The GED administrator at the state could also administer the ADP. That position could be responsible for insuring that all programs go through an approval process, provide professional development statewide, and insure that policies are maintained.

• Local ABE consortia would need to train at least one teacher on how to assess and track learner projects. It would be helpful to form regional groups that could meet quarterly to discuss/brainstorm issues as they arise and share their experiences.

• The local ABE Manager would need to designate someone to create transcripts in MABE and to maintain the transcripts if they will be done at the local level. Once students are completely finished with their ADP program, would we want to maintain their transcript at the state level with other GED transcripts or keep it local?

How well could this model work in Minnesota’s ABE programs, thinking about programs of all sizes and in all areas of the state?

• It is my belief that this would work very well for small rural programs and mid-size programs. I cannot speak for large programs.

How sustainable would this model be, thinking in terms of operational costs?

• It can be sustained provided students are asked to attend some face time at the program each week. In addition to this, students could be doing approved online programs that would generate proxy hours.

One thing to consider is that in our district, diplomas cost $15.00 per person. Who would pay for this cost?

What adaptations or changes should we possibly consider if the task force chooses to select this model?

• The state could approve proxy hours for each project. If there are projects designed and students complete them, we could assign a set number of proxy hours for that work.

• Online learning platforms could be utilized to generate proxy hours if learners choose those as part of a project.

• I think our state would need to look closely at the CCRS standards and incorporate them into the EFF Standards. EFF is 20 years old and may need some review.

Should there be a standardized cut score to exit the program in each area of Reading, Writing and Math? Could there be two or three options of tests that could be taken for example Accuplacer, TABE and CASAS?

• Transcripts should be standardized throughout the state to provide for consistency and portability.

Questions

What questions do I still have that I would like to ask the specialists who work with this model?

Who pays for the actual diploma that is granted to the student?

• Need to make sure that NRS Level 4 is accurate. (for example, they are not saying 4.0 TABE, but NRS Level 4).

• I need to ask her if there are exit level exams – I did not hear her say that there are, but need to double check.

Evaluation

Key Questions to Answer:

What are the model’s strengths?

• Flexibility for programs regarding project design and implementation

• It is FREE – We would not need to charge students for this service

• Allows us to update standards as they change over the years(from EFF to CCRS or ACES or whatever comes next)

• Allows learners to demonstrate their skills, upgrade their skills, and use their creativity. By this I mean that we could use forms of demonstrating what they already know (prior learning), apply their learning to various situations, or improve their learning in areas where they need more instruction.

• It can be implemented in various sized programs.

What are the model’s challenges?

• Some are concerned about rigor of projects being standard across the state – if we have pre-established projects, this should not be as much of an issue.

• Deciding how many proxy hours to assign to projects could be a challenge.

Will we need to have exit cut scores?

Could this adult diploma model could be adopted in Minnesota? Yes

Could this adult diploma model would work well for adults needing a secondary credential? Yes