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The Bennington Banner

Sunday March 14, 2010

BENNINGTON — Educators from around the country will have an opportunity to learn about an academic program in Vermont that allows high school dropouts the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, at a national conference this week.

Representatives from The Tutorial Center in Bennington and Manchester are in Chicago this week to present workshops on the Vermont High School Completion Program (HSCP) to hundreds of literacy organizations from around the country at the first national conference on adult basic education and literacy.

High school dropouts

The HSCP began in 2007 and is the only program in the country that allows high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 21 to complete their course work outside the school through an adult education center and earn a high school diploma, said Jack Glade, executive director of The Tutorial Center.

“It’s a way for people who are no longer in school to earn their high school credit through an alternative pathway,” Glade said.

Students can earn credits in the HSCP by taking alternative classes at The Tutorial Center, a high school, a college or through internships, Glade said.

“This program is unique in the country and lots of states have expressed interest in it … so we’re going out to bring the country up to speed, speaking on behalf of the state,” Glade said.

In the state, more than 900 students have enrolled in the HSCP since 2007 one-third of whom have earned a high school diploma and one-third of whom are still enrolled, Glade said.

Glade said The Tutorial Center helps about 200 individuals between the ages of 16 and 21 each year, and on average about 15 earn their high school diploma through the HSCP each year, while others earn their General Education Development (GED).

On average, the HSCP takes one year to complete, Glade said.

Glade said both at The Tutorial Center and nationally there has been an increase in adult enrollment in alternative education programs, in part because high schools are contacting adult education centers when students drop out so they can be reeled back in. The increased publicity surrounding the importance of a diploma in today’s workforce has also increased the need for programs like the HSCP nationally, Glade said.

Glade will be joined by Janice Leslie and Jan Bopp from The Tutorial Center to present information about the HSCP.

Also attending the national conference co-hosted by ProLiteracy and the Commission on Adult Basic Education will be more than 1,500 education experts; political leaders, including Obama administration representatives; and adult learners to discuss strategies to address funding shortages and increase collaborations as the demand for services grows across the country.

“With record job losses and demand for services soaring, there has never been a more crucial time for this conference. It will bring greater attention to the adult literacy crisis estimated to impact one in seven adults nationally,” Glade said.

Other presenters at the conference will include Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education with the U.S. Department of Education; Jane Oates, assistant secretary of the employment and training administration with the U.S. Department of Labor; Byron Pitts, chief national correspondent for the CBS Evening News, “60 Minutes” contributor, author, and champion of personal literacy struggles; Scott Simon, National Public Radio Weekend Edition Saturday host and author; and David Harvey, president and CEO, ProLiteracy.

The Tutorial Center is a member of ProLiteracy, the world’s largest organization of adult basic education and literacy programs, with 1,200 community-based members in the country.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com