Students of all ages have had to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected almost all levels of education.
Diane Kelley, director of the Heartland Adult Education Consortium, said changes have been made to help students earn their General Educational Development diploma, who are out of high school.
The consortium is a partnership between five different counties, including Hardin County and LaRue County. Its goal is to help local residents earn their GED.
While the consortium does not make or provide the test, it does provide services and materials to help prepare the students.
Kelley said there are several test centers in and around Hardin County where students could take their GED tests. However, the pandemic closed some of these locations, leaving students unable to go.
She also said those who may have unreliable transportation or conflicting work scheduling also were affected by these closures and changes.
In response, the GED Testing Service created a way for students to take the official GED tests within their homes.
These tests uses a strict proctoring protocol and only allow a calculator and writing on the computer with no scraps of paper.
Beginning in July, the consortium became part of this pilot program. Kelley said since then, five of their eight GED graduates have used the online model to take tests.
This new online method for testing now gives students more flexibility to schedule their testing, and can now be done at almost any hour of the day or night.
However, Kelley said some students don’t have the technology needed for the online testing, so the consortium temporarily has been providing laptops to those who need them.
“If you take away those barriers of transportation and technology, I think we’re going to see a lot more people motivated to get there,” Kelley said.
Amanda Surgent, 33, has lived in West Point her whole life. She connected with Kelley and recently began working on her GED, which she earned last week.
Because of transportation issues, Surgent said she was able to take the tests all online with a borrowed laptop and a delivered book for studying within about a week-span. She did not have to pay for the test.
Surgent said she enrolled at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and is thinking of studying agriculture.
She said along with testing, the consortium has also been using different practices within their office because of the pandemic including Zoom classes for students and delivering packets and books for studying to their homes.
Kelley said the consortium would like to see this new program continued in the future.