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Ed Center flexibility puts student on fast track

Pagosan Robert Wade will receive his high school diploma in May and join the Air Force in the fall when he turns 18.

For a while in his life, it seemed that he would not achieve this dream. Because Robert’s family had moved several times while he was in high school, he had lost credits and was not going to graduate on time. Robert was to be one of the approximately 25 percent of our youth who do not receive a high school diploma after the normal period of four years.

Robert knew about the Archuleta County Education Center (ACEC) because his older brother had received his GED there and is now a student of culinary arts at the Art Institute of Denver. Just as the Ed Center had helped his brother enter a program for advanced technical training, it could also help Robert graduate on time so he could join the Air Force.

Instruction at the Ed Center is more flexible than that found in traditional schools, allowing the Ed Center to focus on students who have not been successful in traditional schools. This flexibility allowed Robert to have credit through nationally recognized exams for what he had learned but not received credit for in other schools.

Instruction at the Ed Center uses traditional textbooks supplemented by the ACT, Inc.™ WorkKeys® assessments and the WIN Career Readiness Courseware, both of which are delivered directly to students via the Internet. The WorkKeys program is a series of tests that determines a student’s level of understanding in a specific area, while the Career Readiness Courseware prepares the students for the tests.

To qualify for a high school diploma, students must complete the same course requirements as those who attend Pagosa Springs High School. Robert used traditional textbooks supplemented by the WIN and WorkKeys programs to meet these requirements. He passed the required tests in each of five areas of learning: Writing, Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics, Applied Technology and Locating Information.

In this form of instruction, a student works individually with the assistance of a licensed teacher and moves at his own pace, not the pace of the class. After demonstrating competency in a given course via the WIN courseware, he/she takes a WorkKeys exam. Throughout the WIN lessons, students take quizzes and exams that indicate mastery of the subject being studied.

Robert said practice exams are important because they indicated when he was ready to move to the next level of instruction and ultimately be in a position to successfully pass the ACT WorkKeys exam. Robert noted that if a student fails a test twice, he must pay for subsequent tests providing incentive to work hard to pass the exams in the first two attempts. Robert passed all of his WorkKeys tests on the first attempt, saving him money and allowing him to move into other subject areas.

Self-paced instruction is particularly good for students who are stronger in some subjects than others, as well as for students who learn certain areas faster than others. For example, Robert found the math curriculum to be much easier than the other subjects. He quickly passed through all seven levels of Applied Math and successfully passed the WorkKeys exam giving him more time to spend on subjects he found to be more difficult.

Robert said that help from his “real” teachers was an important part of his success. When it was not clear from Internet instruction how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together, he relied on help from Ed Center teachers Doug Bowen, Lynell Wiggers, Mark Wardell and Lon Hoffman.

Doug Bowen, ACHS director, emphasized that the ACHS program is designed to help students earn a high school diploma, but that this can only be accomplished if the student makes a commitment to attend on a regular basis and complete work on a consistent basis.

“Robert has been a great example of a student who made these commitments; he rarely missed class and worked hard every day,” said Bowen. The flexibility of ACHS accommodates students who need to organize their lives around work or child care or other personal needs.

The Archuleta County Education Center is available to help Robert and students like him achieve their dreams. The flexibility of the Ed Center curriculum gives students who were not successful in the traditional high school setting instruction in reading, writing and mathematics so they can move on to the next level of training, whether it be the military, community college or technical school.

This service to our community does not just happen. It requires the fullest possible support of our community. To learn more about the Ed Center, you are invited to attend the ninth annual Archuleta County Education Center luncheon. The luncheon will be held Tuesday, April 13, starting at 11:45 a.m. at the Centerpoint Church on U.S. 160. Tickets are available at the ACEC (4th and Lewis streets) and at the Chamber of Commerce (402 San Juan St.). For more information, call the ACEC at 264 2835.