HOLYROOD — USD 112 Central Plains announced recently it has officially partnered with Graduation Alliance, an online education provider, to offer a pathway for Kansas adults who have dropped out of high school to earn their diploma. While most programs of its kind have been targeted at teens, the Central Plains Diploma Completion Program is free now to Kansans over the age of 20 who have completed at least some of the 10th grade.
In a news release Monday, Greg Harp, the chief Development Officer of Graduation Alliance talked about the impact the program will have. Currently, there are an estimated 200,000 working-age adults in Kansas without a high school diploma, about 10 percent. This limits their chances of employment and promotions, and those problems are magnified during times of high unemployment like the state is facing now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Historically, dropout recovery efforts across the nation have been targeted at teenagers,” he said. ““But working-age adults who could benefit from a pathway to a high school diploma have been left out. This new program is a way of saying ‘you matter and you haven’t been forgotten.’”
According to USD 112 Superintendent Greg Clark, the district offered a similar program previously. They were approached by Graduation Alliance a little over a year ago with a proposed partnership. In order to operate in Kansas, the company required district sponsorship, and proposed paying the district a percentage of the fee received per credit hour in exchange. The USD 112 Board of Education was eager to get started, Clark said, but the Kansas State Department of Education put the brakes on them initially. The state required the district to exercise due diligence before giving its seal of approval, so the program was delayed until June 2020. Since it was launched, it already has 30 students enrolled, and over 300 inquiries from around the state, Clark said.
That’s important for USD 112, because over the past few decades, the physical head count of students has decreased gradually. As it shrinks, the district must tighten its belt further, making it difficult to put capital back into facilities and offer advanced instruction.
Partnering with Graduation Alliance is a big boost for the district because the company provides all of the teachers and academic counselors, and provides all of the online infrastructure for the program, Clark said.
In addition, high school juniors and seniors can take classes online at no additional cost, and that has opened up new opportunities to get advanced instruction in subjects like physics or foreign language, Clark said.
Clark was curious about how rigorous the classes were, so began working through a couple of them himself. He was impressed.
“They aren’t easy,” he said. “I’m really impressed with the teachers and the academic counselors who are there to help students achieve their best outcomes through the program.”
Individuals who are interested in taking the next step in earning their diploma can visit KansasDiploma.com for more information.