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Arkansas' GED graduates honored for high test scores

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Ronak Patel
/
KUAR News
Dalton Smith, a student at the University of Oklahoma, tells how obtaining a GED changed his life.

Arkansas education officials say they’re making progress in lowering the number of people who don’t have high school diplomas.

During a ceremony Wednesday at the state Capitol, the state's Department of Workforce Services honored people who had the top 25 highest scores. Last year 2,066 Arkansans received the General Equivalency Diploma, which is equal to a high school diploma.

In a keynote address, Dalton Smith of Van Buren, who is a former GED graduate and current University of Oklahoma student, shared how obtaining the diploma can change the direction of one’s future.

“This is very much a highlight of not what you accomplished but the fiber of what makes up who you are. You should walk away today in courage and know that you are very capable of achieving this and much greater things outside of this,” Smith said.

According to the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, there are more than 295,000 adults in the state who haven’t earned a high school diploma, while the state ranks fourth in the nation in the percentage of people who pass the GED test. Last year, 86.7% of GED test-takers in the state passed.

Trenia Miles, director of Arkansas Adult Education, said the passage rate in Arkansas was one of the nation’s highest because the training required of the teachers who help prepare test-takers. She said teachers are required to have a teacher’s license or a masters degree in their subject area. Another factor is the state requires students to pass the GED Ready Practice Test before they can take the official test. Miles also credited the attitude of the people in the program for their success.

“Adult learners often come to our centers because they want to be there and are not made to be there like the K-12 system, so they are motivated,” Miles said in an interview after the ceremony.

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Ronak Patel
/
KUAR News
Trenia Miles, director of the state's Adult Education program, left recent GED graduates with encouraging words about the future.

According to the Arkansas Adult Education Center, earning a GED helps recipients move on to college, technical training or the military. In their speeches at the Capitol, most of the honorees said college was in their plans.