Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Shana's Pathway to Excellence

This week we wanted to bring you an update on our advocacy to create a State Diploma for GED and NEDP recipients. You might remember our effort late last year to support an OSSE proposal that would establish a state-issued diploma for those students who had pursued these alternative pathways to a high school credential. While OSSE’s initial proposal was shelved by the State Board of Education (SBOE) until they could dig deeper into the new policy’s implications, discussions resumed last week at a SBOE public meeting

Eight adult learners from Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School testified on the rigor of the new GED, the persistence and dedication they must demonstrate to pass the test, and the injustice in the fact that GED certificates hold less value than a high school diploma in the eyes of many employers and postsecondary institutions.

While we could use our blog this week to harken back to the hard facts that support the creation of a State Diploma in the District, we know the story of Shana Moses, a disconnected youth who struggled for nearly a decade to attain a high school credential, speaks to the heart of the issue much better than we could:

Shana Moses, far right, testifies before the State Board of Education.

My name is Shana Moses, and I’m a 30 year old Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School student and a Ward 8 resident.  I’m ecstatic to express my feeling towards DC offering a State Diploma.

I have personal experience of attending a GED program and being able to overcome certain barriers in my life such as becoming a parent at the age of 16, having to receive public assistance, and working ends-meets jobs that would hire me without having a high school diploma.  I tried to go back to school and finish, but got discouraged when Anacostia High School tried to make me do a grade all over again that I had already completed.  It made me lose hope.  I felt like I was never going to become anything other than another statistic, another young black girl with no education, just having kids.  That’s how the world looks at situations like mine.

Even though I had no high school diploma, I was able to receive many certifications and learned that I have many talents.  This pushed me not to give up, and I hoped my story could help someone else. 

One of my biggest discouragements was when I was told that the GED test would be changing. All of the old test scores would be of no use because the test would be upgraded as well as computerized.  I had passed all the subjects but math, and procrastinated to finish this last section of the test.  I was extremely disappointed in myself.  I couldn’t be mad at anybody but Shana.

Academy of Hope has given me so much positive energy, great support, and mentorship.  As my fellow classmates and I aim for our GED certificate or NEDP diploma, we work just as hard, if not harder than the average high school student.  It’s harder for GED and NEDP students because most of us haven’t been to school in decades and have to be taught from beginning to end in order to pass.  I am learning subjects that I haven’t seen for several years, so you could say for most of my class it’s like a baby just learning to crawl. 

Moreover, earning a passing grade on the new GED is equivalent to earning a high school diploma.  GED 2014 has been revised to be more difficult and in line with requirements of colleges and employers, and it has become an online test that is based on the common core state standards. GED students work extremely hard for this credential and are acquiring skills that meet or exceed 60% of graduating high school students.  We work hard on a day to day basis preparing ourselves to pass the exam.  

Offering the State Diploma would motivate the students even more by allowing them to have more confidence in passing the exam and to reach a goal that many have tried to achieve many times before.  The State Diploma is one of the best ideas that could be thought of for adult learners. It opens more doors to achieving the excellence we’ve earned.

To learn more about how you can support Shana and other #DiplomaBound youth through the creation of a State Diploma, please contact DCAYA Policy Analyst, Amy Dudas (

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