(Jefferson City) — Students as old as 88 are propelling Missouri’s adult education program to number one. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education National Reporting System, Missouri’s adult students are ranked at the top in terms of academic gains.
There are 28 adult education programs throughout the state offering adults the chance to take the high school equivalency test outside the walls of a traditional high school. Most students range in age from 19 to 44, but even some in their 80s have made the decision to pick up where they left off.
Nancy Bowles, communications coordinator with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, says this is the third year the state has ranked in the top two, going from number one to two and back to one again.
“And we’re very proud of that, very proud of our teachers,” she says. “It’s all about the students, though it’s really not about being number one or number two or whatever. It’s about providing our students with the kind of educational service that they need to succeed.”
Missouri’s Adult Education program serves about 18,000 students.
Bowles says adult-education classes are provided at no cost to students enrolled. She says it makes a big difference for those hoping to advance in their careers.
“People who have a high school diploma or high school equivalency make about $7,500 more per year in salaries than those without a high school education,” says Bowles.
The U.S. Department of Education funds the adult education program at $9 million annually and the state gives $5 million. The state works on attracting adults without their high school equivalency to join the program.