Fulton Schools to drop MO Option

Switch to credit recovery program prompted by changes to high school equivalency test

With the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s announcement that it is replacing the GED with a new high school equivalency test starting in 2014, Fulton High School Principal Jason Whitt and teacher Jessica Geldner announced some changes coming to the district’s student improvement strategies during Wednesday night’s school board meeting.

Those changes consist primarily of dropping the MO Option Program after the first semester of the 2013-14 school year and then focusing primarily on credit recovery to help at-risk students.

“MO Option is a program for students who are not going to graduate on time or at all,” Geldner explained to the board. “Students have to be at least one year behind their cohort class, at least 17 years old and they must pass the GED.”

She said the cost for students to take the GED is a $20 authorization fee and a $20 testing-site fee. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, the GED will change to a completely computer-based format with a cost of $140 for the test and an additional, as-yet-unknown testing-site fee.

Geldner said she received notification from the state Wednesday that DESE has selected a new high school equivalency test, the HiSET, which is developed by Educational Testing Service. That test is less expensive than the new GED at a cost of $95 per student. However, Whitt and Geldner explained that it is much more difficult than the GED — Whitt said it more closely resembles the ACT — and would potentially be too much for students who already are struggling.

They said Fulton still has a few students involved in the MO Option Program, whom they would like to take the GED this summer. If the students pass, they would only need to complete the health, personal finance and U.S. and state government classes during the fall semester to graduate.

Then during the second semester they want to implement a credit-recovery program and change entirely to Edgenuity, a computer-based online program that is in-line with the state’s Common Core Standards that Geldner said would help at-risk students recover credits and catch up with their cohorts.

“We’re trying to identify students sooner who are at-risk,” Whitt said. “We need to pull them in quicker and say, ‘We’re not going to let you fall down,’ and put them in credit recovery right away.”

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