Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

High School Education for Adults

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Young adults are often frustrated by the challenges they regularly face as students. The disappointment of these students experience in their academic performance challenges their abilities to maintain a positive attitude toward school. Struggling their academic dissatisfaction creates a loss of interest in school; giving rise to irregular attendance.

The overwhelming feeling of discouragement felt by such people impairs their ability to appreciate the significance of a high school diploma. Seeing no advantage in completing secondary education, many succumb becoming yet another member of this growing segment of the population: the high school drop-out.

Although many students are aware of the negative implication it carries—a stigma, of sorts—to them, the risks associated with being labeled a “drop-out” far outweigh the benefits of continuing with their education. This contributes to America’s silent epidemic, resulting from an estimated 39 million Americans over the age of 16 who are high school dropouts and have no immediate plans of resuming their education.

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Over the years, it has been speculated to what degree non-traditional students are impacted by relevant, technology-based curricula and whether these experiences have proven positive for adult learners. With the goal of obtaining their high school equivalency certificate, many high school drop-outs are returning to school after a one- to two-decade hiatus, as adult learners.

This literature review will assist in determining whether non-traditional, alternative GED (General Education Development) Preparation Course curricula designed specifically for the adult learner proves conducive to a high school drop-out satisfying the requirements necessary for receiving a high school equivalency certificate.

An attempt in addressing this topic is made by asking the question, “Can non-traditional adult learners determined to obtain a high school equivalency certificate effectively prepare for the GED with newly-designed GED Diploma Preparation courses?” and how such curricula will inspire high school drop-outs to pursue a GED Diploma and/or post-secondary education…free from the confines of a school campus.

For this purpose of this literature review, we will employ Kim and Joo’s definition of a drop-out, as an individual who is “absent from school for 4 or more consecutive weeks for reasons other than accident or illness”. Plenty of studies exist on the professional, social, and economic ramifications a high school drop-out experiences.

Maralani addressed sociological consequences such as stereotyping and discrimination and maintained that achieving a GED Diploma would shield high school drop-outs from harsh criticism. From reading Snyder’s account of stereotypes and their effects on American society, we also come to the realization that they are quite challenging to overcome. These stereotypes affect individuals or groups which are believed to share displeasing qualities.

An example of prevalent stereotypes includes using one’s formal education level to presume how much knowledge they possess—society often regards a high school drop-out as an under-educated individual who lacks follow-through and is only suitable for performing remedial work.

Annually, approximately 600,000 students enroll in educational programs focusing on GED test preparation. “In 1974, California became the last state to award a high school equivalency credential to civilians who passed the GED (General Educational Development) exam”.

The GED test was “originally created for the military” and “was focused on the basic skills and knowledge expected of “average” high school students”.

Heckman et al. conducted research on this subject and found that California boasted the highest high school graduation rates of any state in the union, prior to offering a GED certification program. “Introduction of GED certificates for civilians in California” they contended “increased the dropout rate”.

The prevalent under-education of students is alarming…and continues to become increasingly evident. “In a world in which education is becoming ever more important, finding solutions to the dropout problem is one of the most pressing issues facing America’s high schools”.

Increasing persistence has repeatedly been offered as a simple solution. However, “student persistence addresses a student’s commitment to complete a course”, thereby inferring that a dropout lacks commitment and determination. Lack of persistence, therefore, is exhibited when the high school dropout seizes to learn, rendering them under-educated; while their “average” high school student counterparts continue to gain knowledge.

Strucker , after working in adult education for more than 11 years teaching beginning and intermediate reading, noticed the under-education of American adults. What he referred to as the knowledge gap - "the result of academic content adult learners missed during their K-12 school years", making it difficult for adult students to understand the curricula when returning to school.

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