Last week I had the honor to speak at the annual Adult Education State House Day on behalf of the Maine DOE and Governor Paul LePage.
I was fortunate to talk with several students who had powerful stories to share about how their commitment to bettering themselves through learning is not just improving their college and career prospects, but enriching their lives and that of their families.
Adult education offers something for everyone. From the opportunity to earn a high school credential to support preparing for college to offering low-cost courses on everything from cooking to computer programming, the people of Maine are fortunate to have such a robust adult education system. We are also lucky to have such committed adult education professionals here at the Department and across the state whose dedication is changing the futures of their students and of our communities.
2013 was an especially busy year for adult education and I am proud of what the team here and our partners at adult education programs across Maine accomplished.
There was activity across the state as local programs undertook the transition to a career pathways system. Career pathways link education and training services to enable students to advance over time to higher levels of education and employment in a given industry or occupational sector. The career pathways approach coordinates adult education, training and post-secondary programs, and connects those services to the workforce needs of employers, ensuring our students and our State is well-served.
2013 was also the final year Maine offered the GED and started the transition to the ETS HiSET. A special thanks to the Finance Authority of Maine which financed a statewide media close-out campaign that resulted in 2,713 Mainers – a near record high number – earning their high school equivalency credential last year. The move to the HiSET will ensure test centers can still offer a paper and pencil test as well as a computerized version, and that test takers do not lose the GED scores they had already earned.
The Maine DOE and local adult education program staff throughout the state share a deep commitment to serving adult learners and providing, at no cost to test-takers, extensive test preparation and college and career advisement. Our state is one of the few that offers this test and related preparation programs for free. That’s because we know doing so strengthens Maine’s families, communities and economy.
For adults without a high school diploma, earning a high school credential can open doors to more job opportunities, the potential for better earnings and the option to seek a college education. Employers report they are looking to hire skilled workers, and the high school equivalency provides yet another option for Mainers to be competitive when pursuing these opportunities.
Finally, thanks to increased funding proposed by Governor LePage, we have begun the expansion of the College Transitions program, bringing these critical college preparation services to dozens more communities, including many of Maine’s most rural.
Please know that as Commissioner, I have a sincere commitment to supporting Adult Education programing that is shared by the team at Maine DOE and my fellow Commissioners, including Department of Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette and Department Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais.
For more information about adult education in Maine, please visit www.maine.gov/doe/adult.