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Slight uptick of teens looking to get GED, enrollment for program down overall at PCC

Right now, it’s Arizona Adult Literacy week, a time to bring awareness to the need of higher learning for those without a high school diploma.
Posted at 6:58 AM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 19:25:01-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Right now, it’s Arizona Adult Literacy week, a time to bring awareness to the need of higher learning for those without a high school diploma.

Here in Pima County, the most recent data shows 70,000 adults do not have a high school diploma.

For the GED program at Pima Community College, the center is seeing a few concerning trends.

"This is the perfect time for adults to work on upscaling so they can get back to work in hopefully, even a better paying job,"said Laurie Kierstead-Joseph, the Acting Vice President of Adult Basic Education at PCC.

Even more crucial now as our economy looks to rebound. For those in need of a GED, PCC's Adult Education Program is here to help.

"All of the students who are in our Adult Ed Program have access to free GED practice testing. Normally, they would have to pay out of pocket for that," said Kierstead-Joseph.

Right now, students can take the GED test from the comfort of their home but not many are. "We're seeing the shear numbers of GED testing down about 50%. Pass rates are staying relatively level," said Kierstead-Joseph.

Throughout the pandemic, she said enrollment for GED courses has been down 15 to 20 percent. "Which is surprising. Typically when there is an economic downturn, we see an increase especially in students seeking to prepare for the GED test for their high school equivalency."

Another concerning trend is the slight uptick of teens. "We are seeing slightly more 16 and 17-year-olds apply to take the GED test. It's a really unfortunate trend," Kierstead-Joseph said.

And the testing center is noticing a lot of their students are parents. "They might have to prioritize their children. Their own learning takes a backseat once in awhile."

A tough balancing act some have to face. Kierstead-Joseph said there are both online and face to face options. "Students can take the civics test, which is part of the high school equivalency exam. in a face to face setting."

So far, it hasn't been a problem bringing some students in. "We are being very careful and social distancing. We've been doing this for several months now and its been quite successful," Kierstead-Joseph.

Now, she is working on bringing awareness to the free resources available at PCC to those in need. "There's a national campaign called #moveaheadwithadulted and we're part of that movement to just get the word out. These resources are available. They're free and you can be studying right now."

As the saying goes, there's no time like the present. For more information about PCC's Adult Education Program, click here.