Southern States Need GED Education, Report Says

Southern States Need GED Education, Report Says

In the 16 states that fund the Southern Regional Education Board, more than 10 million adults have no high school credential, including over 3 million adults who did not complete 9th grade. The report A Smart Move in Tough Times: How SREB States Can Strengthen Adult Learning and the Work Force argues for efficient investment in adult education to provide GED preparation and adult education to those without a high school diploma, citing that undereducated adults earn less, contribute less in taxes, and cause a drain on the health care system. “When states provide adult learning programs that lead to GED credentials,” it states, “they make a solid investment in their work forces, businesses and industries, communities and nation.”

Southern states are falling behind in efforts to reach adults and improve GED achievement rates, according to the report. The report shows enrollment in adult secondary education programs down in 12 states between 2005 and 2008. In 2008, only 1.5 percent of adults without a high school diploma in the organization’s region earned a GED credential in 2008.

The first recommendation of the report is for states to set goals for GED credential achievement and adult education. Kentucky set a goal to award 15,000 GED credentials each year, with 35% of adults who earn them enrolling in postsecondary institutions. In 2008, Kentucky awarded 10,307 GED credentials, with 21% of 2007 graduates enrolling in college within two years.

The report also recommends wise investment in adult learning. A key part of this is recognizing that adult education is an investment in a better work force, a better economy, and increased state revenue. The report also cites the importance of using technology to advance adult learning, saying that the use of technology in adult education lags behind K-12 schools. Technology offers an efficient way to reach the large numbers of adults who need GED preparation. “More online options for adult learning would give busy working adults the opportunity to take courses at their own convenience,” the report says. Marketing adult education to those who need it is also a focus of the report.

The report’s final area of recommendation is improving coordination and governance of adult education. A coordinated, state-wide effort eliminates duplication and waste and creates a more efficient program.

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