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Earning Your Kentucky High School Diploma!

Realizing that those with a high school level education typically earn more in the workforce than those who do not, Kentucky officials would like to see as many citizens as possible earn this basic credential. Several paths toward this goal are available to Kentucky residents, including the online and equivalency programs described.

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High School Diploma and Equivalent Credentials for Kentucky Residents

There are several options for obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent in the state of Kentucky. Residents can take exams to earn the General Educational Development (GED) credential with the help of their area's adult education system. Other possibilities that are not specific to Kentucky include private online high schools, correspondence courses, or an external diploma program that gives credit for skills learned in real life. Pursuing any of these paths will require applicants to first obtain official transcripts of previously completed high school courses; these are usually located in the registrar's office at the last school attended.

General Educational Development (GED) Test

Kentucky's education system enables adults who lack a high school diploma to take the General Educational Development (GED) test to earn a credential equivalent to a diploma; the GED is recognized by most colleges and employers. The GED requires adult learners to demonstrate that they have obtained high school level competencies by taking and passing a 5-subject test covering the core subjects of reading, writing, social studies, science and math (two parts). The amount of time it takes to complete the GED will depend upon core competencies already learned and amount of time dedicated to study.

Getting Started

Kentucky requires applicants for the GED test to first take an official practice test. Both the practice test and the official test are available at adult education centers found in every Kentucky county. Preparation courses are also offered at these centers. The website for Kentucky Adult Education, a division of the Kentucky Department of Education, is a good starting place to learn details on eligibility and locate the closest adult education center (kyae.ky.gov).

Private Online High School Diploma Programs

Online programs allow the adult learner to obtain a high school diploma by completing credit bearing course work through their website. The Kentucky resident is able to earn a valid high school diploma online thanks to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which standardizes core content to be learned in secondary schools amongst the states. More information about the initiative can be found at the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) website (http://www.ed.gov/).

How To Start

These programs can be found through an Internet search. Be certain that the institution offering the diploma program is accredited by an agency recognized by the USDE or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as a legitimate accrediting agency. After online enrollment, an individualized learning program is established based upon the student's needs. The only requirement is that the adult learner is not enrolled in any mandatory secondary school program. Required courses and time for completing a program will vary depending upon how many transferable secondary school credits the adult learner has already earned.

Distance Learning Programs

Also known as correspondence courses, these allow the adult learner to earn a high school diploma by completing courses sent to them by mail. The learner completes the course at their own pace and returns the assignments to the school for grading. Many of these programs incorporate an online component, giving the student options for study, supplemental material or support via an online community of fellow learners and access to instructors and staff. Here, too, the Common Core State Standards Initiative applies to schools accredited by an agency recognized by the USDE or CHEA.

Getting Started

Information on these programs can be found online, in phone books or at guidance offices at secondary schools. The first step is to contact the school to obtain the necessary enrollment forms. The school may request primary or secondary school transcripts. The adult learner must not be enrolled in any mandatory secondary school program. During enrollment, a learning program will be created and the student will be expected to work on courses at home. Required courses and completion time will depend upon transferable secondary school credits already completed.

The National External Diploma Program

This program allows adults to apply life experiences toward earning a high school diploma. This program is most suitable to those adult learners who have acquired life and work experiences similar in nature to what is taught in a public secondary school. In Kentucky, the diploma is issued by the Kentucky Department of Education and is administered through the Kentucky Adult Education CASA program.

Getting Started

The National External Diploma Program website describes the program and the competencies (www2.casas.org). The program consists of two phases. The first is a diagnostic test of basic reading, writing, math skills and life experiences. Following the diagnostic testing, the adult learner will then be given an assessment using real life skill sets that have core competencies embedded in them. If an applicant to this program passes the assessment phase, they are awarded a high school diploma.

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