By Julie Wiessner
Nationally, Arizona ranks fourth in educational gains in adult education, according to a report unveiled last week by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal. The report reflects how Arizona helps its high school dropouts gain their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) compared to the rest of the nation. On average, an adult education student in Arizona makes more than a two-grade level jump per year, with the state expending only $1,250 per student per year.
Further, U.S. Department of Labor statistics note that, on average, adults passing the GED exam earn at least $8,000 more in wages each year, generating tax revenue at the state and federal levels. Last year, at least 12,650 Arizonians earned a GED.
Rickey Jackson, director of Developmental Services and Education at Northland Pioneer College, noted, “The number of students receiving their high school equivalency diploma for 2011 (through NPC) was 150; for 2012, the number was 130.”
When asked why there was a 20-student drop in 2012, he replied, “It ebbs and flows. It really depends on the students’ skill level, where they are at when they come to us.
“On the average, it takes students about five months to obtain their GED. Remember, this is average; there are students who go quicker than the five month average and students who are slower than the five month average. Like I said, it all depends on student skill levels when they come to us seeking their GED,” Jackson concluded.
Statistics also show that when students are in the labor force, they are more likely to contribute to society and less likely to become involved in criminal activities leading to incarceration.
Even so, there are still more than 6,000 students in Arizona who are wait-listed, waiting for funds to be made available to help them attain a GED.
By Julie Wiessner