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City Club: Do more to help dropouts earn GED

The public will have two opportunities this month to learn about an education issue that affects about 336,000 adults in the state.

About that many Oregonians lack a high school diploma or alternative, experts say, and the General Educational Development (GED) credential is the primary way for them to get back on track.

Yet, according to a new City Club of Portland report: “The state has done little to coordinate and fund services that would help dropouts achieve that milestone on the path toward economic success.”

In response to findings that showed the GED ill-prepares adults careers or higher education, the exam just got a makeover. The GED aligns with the Common Core State Standards and, experts say, offers unprecedented aggregate data to states that will help identify successful strategies to help with preparation.

A draft of the City Club's new report, “A Second Chance for Oregon, High School Dropouts, and the GED,” was released Friday, Jan. 17.

“The 2014 GED revision comes at a fortuitous time for Oregon as the state strives to meet the ambitious goals of its 40-40-20 plan and has new education leadership in place,” the report notes.

“Yet just as the GED does not guarantee success but only a second chance for adults, so too the 2014 revision offers Oregon only an as-yet-unproven opportunity to help 19- to 25-year-old adults without high school diplomas to become active participants in the state’s economy.”

The report makes several recommendations about how the state should capitalize on the revised GED.

Among them:

• Develop a coordinated state funding and strategic framework for GED preparation, testing, soft-skill development programs and related wraparound services.

• Prepare an annual state report that contains a clear accounting of state funds that are allocated for GED test preparation, testing and related support services.

• Allocate dedicated state funding to subsidize GED testing for qualified students with demonstrable need.

Before then, there are two ways to learn more:

• City Club will host an informational town hall about the report’s findings, conclusions and recommendations, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Green Dragon, 928 S.E. Ninth Ave.

The event is free and open to anyone, but space is limited. Click here app.arts-people.com/index.php?theatre=ccp to reserve a space.

• The City Club's Friday Forum is set for 11:30 a.m. at The Governor Hotel. For info, and to access the report, visit www.pdxcityclub.org.