From leadertelegram.com: “High school dropout receives college diploma 31 years later” — By Emily Miels – Until recently, Jim Voss didn’t consider himself a scholarly person.

The former high school dropout didn’t know if he could even pass the G.E.D. test — a test designed to determine whether the test-taker has a high school graduate’s level of knowledge — let alone obtain a college diploma.

On Friday, Voss, who will be 50 in June, will graduate from Chippewa Valley Technical College with a degree in business management and near perfect grades.

After receiving failing grades in high school, Voss dropped out in 1983 to pursue employment.

“Back then it wasn’t uncommon for somebody to leave school to go to work,” Voss said. “I actually hitchhiked to Portage after I dropped out.”

Voss got a job in the newspaper industry. He started as a “paper stuffer” and eventually worked up to various management positions, following job opportunities across the state and Midwest.

“I started at the bottom of the newspaper business, and I rose and rose,” Voss said. “About every four years I was promoted, usually to another company that would see my talents.”

After a series of unforeseen events, including the moving of print operations at the Chippewa Herald — where Voss was working as pressroom manager — to La Crosse, Voss found himself out of a job and searching for new opportunities.

“It scared the bejeebers out of me walking in here,” Voss said about his first day at CVTC in 2012.

Voss didn’t know what to expect when he decided to return to school, but he felt at home at CVTC right away.

“When I walked in here, you know, the students and the instructors all treated me as an equal,” he said.

One of Voss’ main goals was to succeed academically at CVTC. Though he said it wasn’t always easy, he did just that. He is president of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for two-year schools that provides members with grants and networking opportunities.

Valuable experience

CVTC’s business management program helped Voss grow the skills he’d learned during his years in the newspaper industry.

“It helped me expand some of my management knowledge, but it also well-rounded it to more than just one business as well as bringing me up on some of the technology,” he said.

Tom Huffcut, CVTC’s vice president of operations, said students in that program are required to have an internship. Voss was interested in something more advanced, focusing on mid- to senior-level management.

“He approached our president for that reason, who put him in touch with me, and from there I kind of matched him up,” Huffcut said, noting Voss was eager to help and make an impact.

Voss worked on a combined project with human resources and college professional development as an intern. He created surveys, developed spreadsheets, revised outdated policies and participated in leadership programs.

“I learned a lot of things in my classes here, but those people are the trainers of the trainers,” he said. “They train the people that are instructing, and it shows.”

Voss was the department’s first intern. Karen Callaway, his supervisor and professional development specialist at CVTC, said his work continues to be beneficial in developing and customizing training programs.

“He fit right in and everything,” she said. “We were glad to have the help.”

Voss said he hopes to work toward managing operations and feels more confident and prepared than ever.

“I can use my knowledge, my expertise and the things I’ve learned here, and I can apply them to any business,” he said.

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From wausaudailyherald.com: “GED/HSED grads overcome much on their path to diplomas” — WAUSAU — Jason Wolfgram said he grew up on the “rough south side of Milwaukee, where finishing high school, or even imagining of going to college, was completely unheard of.”

But on Friday evening, Wolfgram, 36, was wearing a dark blue graduation gown and mortarboard, standing in front of his three children and a crowd of fellow GED/HSED graduates, their friends and family members, talking about how he earned his diploma after years of selling and taking drugs and spending plenty of time behind bars. He talked about how he was now working as a welder and taking human services classes at Northcentral Technical College.

Wolfgram was a student speaker at NTC’s commencement ceremony for its GED, or General Educational Development, and HSED, or high school equivalency diploma, programs. He was one of more than 250 graduates receiving the diplomas at NTC this spring.

NTC President Lori Weyers and keynote speaker state Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Stettin, spoke about how important those diplomas are. They stressed that the graduates had achieved a crucial accomplishment that can help lead to a successful life.

“Years ago, it was possible to make a living in this world without an education,” Petrowski said. “Those days are over.”

That’s one reason why Melody Olson, 55, of Colby decided she would pursue her GED. When she was a teenager, “I didn’t like school,” she said. “So I quit, married and had kids.”

Now her three daughters are grown, and she has four grandchildren with a fifth on the way. She moved from Baraboo to Colby to be with her longtime boyfriend, Jim Powell, 59. She said she couldn’t find a job without a high school diploma, but it also simply bothered her that she didn’t have a diploma. So with the encouragement of Powell, she enrolled in NTC’s individualized, self-paced GED/HSED program.

“I thought, ‘I gotta do something,’” Olson said.

Getting the GED has given her confidence, Powell said.

“That was really important for her,” Powell said.

Wolfgram made his decision while serving time in the Marathon County Jail.

“I wanted to make some serious changes finally. I wanted to be a person that my family, mostly my babies, could and would look up to,” he said. “You see, all my life, I have lied my way through applications, jobs, to support my family. I never understood the true meaning, or the feelings associated with receiving a diploma. But today I stand here, before all of you, with what’s accepted as a high school diploma.”

Wolfgram thanked the NTC staff members forsticking with him and helping him earn the diploma.

“Like I said earlier, I’m just the product of rough streets,” Wolfgram said. “The stigma of a violent offender. A drug user. A dealer. Those things are all in my rear-view mirror right now.”

From fox11online.com: “New grants in Green Bay to help teen mothers” — GREEN BAY- Green Bay Area School District and NWTC are working together to make sure teen moms graduate high school.

It’s an effort that may benefit the entire community.

Nineteen-year-old Augustina Medina says she wants to give her 18-month-old daughter Isabella the best life possible.

“When you get pregnant, you’re put in as you’re not going to graduate,” Medina said. “You’re not going to get far in life. And that always bugged me.”

Medina says she was supported by family and school counselors after giving birth.

But she still needed to step up her efforts to graduate from Green Bay Southwest High School.

In Wisconsin, nearly half of high school aged mothers do not graduate.

School social workers say one of the biggest barriers to not graduating high school as a teen parent is not know where to go for help. But two new grants are aimed at helping teen parents get their diplomas and go on to higher education.

The first grant: 200 thousand dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It will provide additional academic support, career counseling, and parenting classes.

“We know that a really strong predictor of whether or not a child will grow up in poverty is if they are born to a mother who is a teen and one of the amazing things of the opportunity of this project is by getting more of our teen parents to the post-secondary level, we can potentially take two generations out of poverty,” said Green Bay West High School Social Worker Kim Schanock.

The second grant is from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation Women’s Fund.

The organization won’t say how much it’s for.

The money will go toward a two year program which will directly connect NWTC counselors with pregnant high school students.

“How can you develop study skills and really learning about how to apply for financial aid, and how to fill out a college application,” said Amber Michaels, the students services manager for NWTC.

Medina now attends NWTC, studying business management.

She hopes other teen mothers will use the new resources in high school to find their own motivation, and provide a better life for their children.

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Tech schools prepared for changes in GED tests” — WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Mid-State Technical Colleges in central Wisconsin doubled the number of offerings of tests for General Equivalency Diplomas in preparation for changes taking effect Jan. 2.

Those seeking to obtain their GEDs were encouraged to try to complete the process before the changes took hold. Tests often were offered on a weekly basis at the three technical colleges, and Portage and Adams County jails. The main test site is at the Wisconsin Rapids campus; test examiners travel to other sites.

“We started the push, really, about September last year, so we’ve been at this for over a year to try and get people to finish up,” said Jo-Ellen Fairbanks-Schutz, MSTC associate dean of general education for the colleges. “We had an increase of over a couple hundred tests, previous to our big push.”

Last year, more than 1,000 tests were taken between all the test locations; since July, 402 tests were taken, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“There were some areas of the state that saw a very marked increase in demand for GED testing,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “While we saw an increase, it wasn’t as dramatic as some areas of the state. Madison and Milwaukee were just bursting at the seams; we were able to handle the demand with extra seats available.”

There are a few changes, but there are two major ones — the test will only be available on computer, and the 2002 test series will be replaced with the 2014 series, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“Historically, it’s always been a pen and paper test,” she said.

The 2002 test series had five components: reading, writing, math, science and social studies. The new series will not include the writing component; that will be dispersed into the other four areas. The new structure is based on the Common Core standards and college and career readiness standards, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“The downside of the changes was if a candidate started testing in the 2002 series, and did not complete or pass the test, those tests cannot be rolled over,” Fairbanks-Schutz said.

The testing is somewhat time-consuming, and advisers often recommend candidates break up the testing cycle, Fairbanks-Schutzs said. Each component takes at least an hour to complete.

The college has a plan for candidates who are not computer literate. The institution has invested in NEO 2 from Renaissance Learning, which comes with a keyboarding program.

“We’ll start the students just learning the basic keyboarding skills while studying the content to get ready for the test,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “We have another software program that we bought that looks just like the (new) GED and it specifically goes over the computer skills (candidates) are going to need to be able to take the test.

“We’re trying to get it from multiple angles, depending on the skill of the students, to give them multiple options.”

The college’s Academic Success Center also offers preparation resources for students.

The cost for testing also has changed. The 2002 series was $120 for all five tests; the new test will cost $33.75 for each component or $135 total. Retesting is available at $30 a test.

Candidates also have to wait 30 days before retaking the test, so anyone taking a test in December and not succeeding will have to take the test under the new system. The last test dates in Wisconsin were Dec. 5 for the writing test and Dec. 13 for all other tests. The official tests are not available online, according to the MSTC website.

Wisconsin test centers offering computer-based testing include Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Gateway Technical College, according the the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website.

GED changes coming soon

November 7, 2013

From weau.com: “As new GED test rollout approaches, rush is on” —  Americans who want to finish the GED test are at the 11th hour, before a new version rolls out in January.

The GED tests are changing in January 2014. The new high school equivalency exam will wipe out all incomplete GED test scores from the 2002 version of the exam.

The Chippewa Valley Technical College says if you’ve already passed a portion of the five tests, you must take the writing test by December 5th and everything else by December 13th.

“Any student who hasn’t finished their GED, needs to get into their nearest CVTC Learning Center as soon as possible and complete the remaining tests that they have,” said instructor in Adult Education Services and department chair Jill Mayer.

Mayer said the January 2014 tests are completely different and based on the Common Core Standards. There would be five exams instead of four in the subjects of language arts, social studies, science and math.

“And they’ll be computer based,” said Mayer. “We’ll be dealing with a lot of teaching students computer skills and keyboarding and writing their essays online.”

In the math portion, she said there will be heavier focus on algebra which wasn’t the case before.

The price will also go up.

The current class for the 2002 GED testing series is $90 and that includes all five tests and the credentialing fee,” said Mayer. “And for the 2014 test, it will probably cost about $124.”

Mayer said there are still hundreds of students in the area that have to finish the test. Before the fall semester, she said CVTC had a marketing plan, sending out hundreds of postcards to student who partially took the tests, reminding them to come back and finish it.

And because of the rush, CVTC had to extend hours and double up on instructors for the GED.

One student who wants to beat the deadline is Alan Robertson who wants a change in career.

“I have all of them done except for math and writing, so two left,” said Robertson who began taking the test two years ago. “Earlier this summer I did my science one and the other two was a couple years ago so I procrastinated a little but this year I’m cracking down,” he said.

Robertson said once he gets his GED completed, he wants to continue going to school at CVTC and enroll for classes in welding.

“Something where I don’t have to worry about sitting at a desk all day, kind of a mixture of both, you’re kind of using your head and being physical (as a welder),” said Roberston.

 

From wxow.com: “Jail educators prep for GED test changes” — Changes are coming to the GED test in Wisconsin that could make it harder to pass the high school equivalency exam.

Willa MacKenzie is the jail educator from Western Technical College. She works with inmates at the La Crosse County Jail, in an effort to help them complete their GED. In 2012 and 2013 about 40 percent of those who started the exam, successfully competed it.

“The thing about the jail setting is they don’t have that outside network of friends to deal with,” MacKenzie. “They don’t have the problems and the addictions in jail so it really is a nice clean, clear time for them to complete.”

Beginning January 1, there will be changes to the GED in the state of Wisconsin. The test will only be administered on a computer, so test takers must have basic keyboarding and computer skills. It will also be harder..and condensed in to four sections instead of five

“We’ve raised the level of things people need to be able to do,” said Chad Dull, the dean of instructional support services at Western Technical College. “There’s very little memorization, it’s more comprehension and being able to respond to text and make an argument.”

While the new test is more difficult, educators say those who successfully complete it are more prepared to continue their education or enter the workforce.

“On the current test, when you write you write a 5 paragraph essay based on a random prompt, which is not a very real world thing to do,” Dull said. “Now you’re going to read things and respond to them in writing which really mirrors more of what most of us do in the real world.”

Mackenzie says many of the inmates she works with have the skills to pass the exam, they just need to know how to apply them.

“What we’re looking for is them to understand something they read, understand what the argument is and use that argument to back up their opinion,” MacKenzie said. “And I think that’s what these people can do in real time and that’s what gets them ready for the work force. So I think those skills together that they already have on board, for survival skills, if we can channel those, they’re going to be good.”

Anyone in the jail interested in completing their GED is able to get in to the classroom 3 to 4 times a week. And Mackenzie says if you started the GED, you must finish before the new test in January, or you will have to start over.

 

 

From superiortelegram.com: “WITC offers free adult basic education” — Free basic education classes for adults are available at the Superior campus of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. This summer the Student Success Center in Room 213 is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays through July 24. Fall classes will resume Aug. 19, and the Student Success Center will be open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Whether students want to prepare for college, earn their GED/HSED or enter the workforce with confidence, they can brush up on basic skills — reading, grammar, science, social studies, basic computer skills or math — in the Student Success Center. Most courses are self-paced with instructor assistance. Students can enroll any time.

The GED/HSED tests change Jan. 1 to a new computerized testing format. Individuals who have started, but not completed, the current written battery of GED tests, will need to finish by December or start over with the new test. Beginning Jan. 1, students will be required to follow the new computerized testing format.

For more information, call 715-394-6677, ext. 6210.

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