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Observations, Questions, Tasks Concerning RI Adult Education
Ed. note: Adult Education info on ProvGardener needs updating. These pages were written in 2015. Edited pages have dates of last revision.
I began my own investigation [in 2015] by asking, What if I didn't have a high school diploma? What could I find out about RI high school equivalency credentials on the web? This question led me into a confusing swamp. Since that first couple of hours of searching, I've spent more time thinking and exploring, which leads me to the following observations, questions, and tasks:
- Hi, Neighbor! Have a 'GED!! [Or maybe there should be a different way to get a high school equivalency credential?] -- Top down is not enough. The number of people who must improve their skills to high school level is too great. RI Department of Education cannot provide students with the amount of help they need. Anyway, it's everybody's business to fix Rhode Island's economy, specifically to raise our state's level of education. I think our political leaders and education professionals should organize a volunteer effort. I am sure many skilled Rhode Islanders would be willing to help if they knew of volunteer opportunities. If we speak English well enough, know how to use a computer, and/or have a high school diploma or better, why not be connected to someone who needs to improve their English, learn how to use a computer and conduct online research, and/or get a high school equivalency credential -- and coach them. If someone needs to learn, find someone to coach you. Everybody encourage everybody else to help our neighbors improve their skills. Babysit so parents can study! Whatever! All hands on deck!
July 30, 2019: Given the problems in the Providence Public Schools identified in a recent, scathing report by Johns Hopkins researchers, I'd suggest figuring out how to simultaneiously help the parents who themselves did not learn to read well during their childhoods learn to read and do math along with their children. Teach whole families. Perhaps pair other adults and families that read well with families that missed out on good teaching during their school years. Most parents want their children to have better opportunities than they had, but may also have a wish to improve their own skills. Kids who see their parents reading and mastering math will learn better. There should be a statewide push to get EVERYONE to READ -- novels, articles, biographies, whatever.
- Let's solve the problems that prevent Rhode Islanders from achieving. Here are some useful questions I'll try to answer and tasks I'll undertake :
- Get out of the way! I am sure they do not mean to do this but I find that RI GED websites obstruct adult students. Make it clear what the different levels of adult education are, what's required to move through the levels. Make it very clear that using computers is essential to progress. Keep the list of providers and classes up to date. Set things up online so that it is easy for Rhode Islanders to access practice tests, online preparation courses, etc., WITHOUT having to register or log in. Organize this information and be sure it can be found easily through obvious keyword searches. Empower the GED seekers. Assume they are intelligent and motivated. Treat students like responsible adults, which they are. I found no barriers to sample test questions through a Connecticut site, but ran into barriers to almost everything I found through Rhode Island websites. I also hit a large number of broken links.
- Coordinate the online resources and address most of them to the adult students. I have found most RI GED information is aimed at "program administrators" and educators.
- Use straightforward words, like High School Equivalency or Adult Education (AE), not jargon such as "Multiple Pathways." Too much effort has apparently been devoted to cute website names like WayToGoRI.org. [On July 30, 2019, WayToGoRI apparently went somewhere inaccessible. There's still a YouTube channel, a Facebook page last updated in 2012, Twitter account last updated in 2015. RI Resource Hub (not to be confused with RI DataHUB) is another obscure name for Adult Education Resources but that one still exists in 2019. On 7/30/19 it showed up on the 3rd page of Google results for "RI adult education." Many searchers don't go much beyond the first page of 10 entries.] I should talk, of course, having named an environmental news and event website What Grows On in RI, but I'm just an individual, not a major department of the state of RI that wants to reach the 74,000 Rhode Islanders without a high school diploma. Web page titles need to be optimized for search engines. Rhode Island's online AE information is difficult to find with simple searches. Try searching on RI ADULT EDUCATION or RI GED or RI NEDP. If any provgardener.com links show up on these searches, then it should be easy for RIDE to optimize the websites and pages aimed at RI's adult students. This website went live January 5, 2015, and I've only been adding some keywords since the end of January 2015. By the way, on February 5, 2015, a search of Google on RI ADULT EDUCATION turned up WayToGoRI.org in the 90-100th hits. [On 7/30/19, it doesn't show up at all. Its YouTube channel, named wtgri, has had 9 subscribers and was last viewed 8 years ago,] A couple of ProvGardener.com pages (http://www.provgardener.com/publication/adult-education-improving-ris-wo...) showed up in the 60-70th hits in 2015. The major RI Adult Education websites for adult students should show up on the first page of search results. [On 7/30/19, On a Google search of "RHODE ISLAND GED" the http://www.provgardener.com/about/getting-ged-rhode-island page came up on page 5 of results (between 50 and 60 -- #59) in 2015. A search on RI NEDP turns up http://www.provgardener.com/content/nedp on page 1 in 2015! The RIDE-sponsored websites should be hit #1 on page 1!!
- As long as we're removing jargon and using acronyms like AE, let's also create an acronym glossary. There's too much alphabet soup in the swamp. Indigestible.
- Why aren't there any GED classes on television stations? Or maybe there are, but when are they and on which channel? If there aren't any, do other states broadcast GED prep classes, and if so, what do they do? [New York State lists WKET and PBS programs, for instance WNET K-12 education programs, 7/30/19] Many students will only have time to study after the kids go to sleep. Lots of people have TVs, but many do not have up-to-date computers.
- Connect Broadband RI computer training with Adult Education so every Rhode Islander can easily find out how to become a trainer or how to get this essential training on how to use a computer. Rhode Island has great broadband infrastructure, but our prosperity depends on EVERYONE being able to use it. Computer training for all Rhode Islanders is a top priority!
- List the various credentials that Rhode Island employers might accept as indication of better-paying-job readiness. Are there additional alternatives to the GED and NEDP? I found a clear answer as to high school equivalency credentials in Connecticut on July 30, 2019. Incidentally, Connecticut's local boards of education provide adult education See fpr instance New London's Adult Education pages . I searched for Adult Education with the names of several towns and cities and easily found information about basic, ESL, continuing, and other learning opportunities (7/30/19). In comparison, Rhode Island's programs are a hodge podge.
- List the training centers, classes (including time and place) in a comprehensive calendar, and frequently asked questions. There is too much gatekeeping here. Coordinate this information and make it easy for students to see their training options. Since I first published this post, I have found the RI Resource Hub. I realize that professional educators are making monumental efforts to reach adults in need of basic education and high school diplomas. But again the name "RI Resource Hub" does not convey it is about adult education in RI. On July 30, 2019, ProvGardener's Adult Education Providers page is #3 in Google. The About/RI Resource Hub is on page 3 at #36.
- In general, let's put ourselves in the shoes of someone who doesn't have a GED. What does a Rhode Islander need to do to get a high school equivalency credential?
- July 30, 2019: What are the actual NUMBERS of people who need help? Many of the reports, plans, and other documents deal in percents, which camouflages the size of the problem. For instance today (7/30/19) I searched on "how many ri adults basic education" in DuckDuckGo and found a RIDE pdf on CCRI's website with 2009/10 data as the third result. "150,431 adults in Rhode Island need Adult Education services...." The 2019 report of the Special Legislative Commission that recommended moving the primary responsiblity for Adult Education from RIDE to DL&T has no total number of Rhode Islanders needing AE services -- lots of percentages, though. [By the way, Adult Education is still housed at RIDE. Senator Metts sponsored Senate Bill No. 816 SUB A but it died in the House Finance Committee in June 2019.] The number of people who got a GED in 2017-1018 is there: 279. Given that many thousands of RI adults do not have high school diplomas, this is a sign of failure.
- July 30, 2019: Also tried searching "how many minnesota adults basic education" in Google and got a comprehensive overview of the adult education situation in Minnesota, with data apparently through 2014. Minnesota is well organized. Check out other states - several states have much better information for learners than we have in Rhode Island.
I'll add more questions and tasks, but the above will keep me busy for a while. I have a lot of other work building other sections of this website besides finding out about getting a GED in RI. Wish me luck. But let's all do everything we can to help our GED-less neighbors! They need a lot more than luck.