Student parents test for GED certificate

RANGELY I A General Educational Development (GED) preparation class launched by the RE-4 school district in Rangely in February resulted in four students testing for their GED certificate in Craig on May 10, with more students planning to test in June.
A GED is the equivalent of a high school diploma, and Sandy McKelvey, who taught the district-sponsored course from Feb. 20 until the end of April, worked regularly with eight students each week to refresh them on the five components of the GED exam: reading, writing, math, social studies and science. Most were parents of school-attending children and had been out of school for at least five years.
“We didn’t just work on the subjects, although we did do a lot with math — fractions, algebra and geometry,” said McKelvey, who has a master’s in education with an emphasis on adult education and distance learning. “It was also a matter of showing students how to learn the material. That’s when they could say, ‘Oh, OK, that clicks,’ and move forward from there.”
That meant that while relearning the writing process and key science concepts was important, so was talking about how learners’ brains work, how to take a timed test effectively and why students need to work consistently to retain information.
“They had to learn, for instance, that math is a skill; that if you don’t use it every day, you’re going to lose it and will have to relearn it,” McKelvey said. “There are lots of things in the GED test they use every day. They just don’t label it as such.”
RE-4 Superintendent Todd Cordrey, who initiated the program this past spring as part of the school board’s parent involvement initiative, hoped that a GED prep course would help kids see parents taking their own educations seriously.
“GED training for our parents has a direct influence on the support they can provide to their children with homework,” Cordrey said. “It also affirms their affinity for education in the eyes of the children.”
As many parents adapted to their roles as students, they learned not only the materials for the exam but also grew in their self-confidence, McKelvey said. Several students told her they would not have pursued their GED certificate without the district offering the course.
Now the question for those who tested May 10 and those who will take the exam in June is how they will move forward once they’ve reached this milestone.
“Earning a GED certificate will improve these parents’ quality of life,” McKelvey said. “There are many reasons why students don’t complete their {high school diploma), but there are a lot of challenges when they don’t. Once they’ve passed, they have many more opportunities they didn’t have before.”
McKelvey said that there is currently a big push for students thinking about earning their GED certificate to do so before January 2014, when the exam will be completely online. Students who have not completed all five tests before then will need to retake them all, she said.
McKelvey also thanked GED proctor Gene Bilodeau for his help in coordinating the testing.
The district plans to continue helping current GED students who may need follow-up sessions this fall and to support a new cohort of students, Cordrey said.
GED classes are available in Meeker through Colorado Northwestern Community College, however, those classes are not free.