There are many reasons why people leave high school before they have earned their diplomas. Some leave school to start a family or to enter the job force. Some get too bored or too frustrated to stay in school.

However, today there are few reasons not to earn that diploma as an adult. Adults who are over 18 and who are not currently enrolled in high school are generally eligible to begin the Vermont Adult Diploma Program at any time. There is no cost for students.

The program consists of several steps. Students first take three standardized tests, one each in math, reading, and writing. Next, students work with a VADP assessor to complete five projects designed to show their ability to meet standards set at both the state and national level. The projects and test scores are compiled in a portfolio of student work which is assessed against recognized standards by the VADP assessor. The portfolio is also approved by the State Department of Education and the student's school district superintendent. Finally, a student earns his or her diploma from the local participating high school.

The projects are all designed to be real-world work that will not only show high school competencies, but also will be immediately useful to students' lives. For example, students may work on projects that build their job skills by analyzing their current skills, creating resumes and cover letters, and attending job interviews. Other students may prepare for life after the diploma by completing projects that focus on college readiness, taking the Accuplacer college entrance tests, comparing colleges offering their prospective majors, and meeting with VSAC representatives to explore how to pay for further education.

The VADP builds in student choice so each participant can tailor learning to his or her own life goals. The VADP assessor guides each student through the program, helping the student set goals and select relevant projects, connecting the student to the local Learning Center for instruction if needed, and assessing the project work as it is completed. Students typically meet with the assessor once each week.

For residents of Hardwick, Greensboro, Newark, East Haven, Victory, Lunenburg, Passumpsic, Peacham, Danville, and the towns within that circle, the VADP assessor is Marina Rowell. Though her office is located in the St. Johnsbury Community Education Center on Main Street, Rowell makes the VADP flexible for adults who want to earn diplomas. Because many adults already juggle work and a family, Rowell says, "I will meet you wherever and whenever it works for you. If you want your diploma, I'm here to help make that happen for you."

For more information about earning your diploma as an adult, contact Rowell at 748-5624 or email her at marina.rowell@neklsvt.org.

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