I am inspired each year by the number of Montanans completing the High School Equivalency Test and Adult Education Programs. The Office of Public Instruction’s Career, Technical, and Adult Education Division oversees the HiSET and Adult Education Programs in Montana. Since the HiSET was adopted five years ago to replace the General Educational Development test, the number of exams taken has increased each year with just over 2,000 students tested in 2015 to over 2,400 students tested in 2017. The passage rate has remained over 80% each year. Results from 2018 will be available this summer and hopefully will show a trend of continued growth.
For those nontraditional students, the HiSET and Adult Education Programs can be life-changing. The OPI is dedicated to ensuring that diverse learning opportunities are available for all students with regard to their interests, ambitions, goals, learning styles and place in life. This requires collaboration among schools, parents, communities and business leaders.
As Montana’s state Superintendent of Public Instruction, and a classroom teacher for 23 years in Billings, I know that no two students learn the same. I also know that each individual student is looking for a unique path to success after their traditional high school graduation or completing their education through nontraditional tracks. With graduation season upon us, school leaders, teachers, parents and communities have a responsibility to ensure that each new graduate is prepared with tangible skills to assist them in careers, apprenticeships, military service and certification programs, as well as traditional college pathways.
Over 10,000 juniors just completed the ACT this spring as it is Montana’s statewide assessment for high school and an important indicator for college success. I am also encouraging students to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam which gives career and skill feedback, while also exploring career and technical courses, dual enrollment, work-based learning opportunities, computer science, Advanced Placement and Digital Academy courses, as well as other innovative learning experiences.
Last year, Montana saw the highest graduation rate in recent history at 86.4%. We have much work to do to truly prepare students for college and careers after they successfully walk across that stage. My goal is to have students be Montana Ready for success in all aspects of our state’s economy.
Congratulations to the class of 2019. Please join me in putting Montana students first by expanding opportunities for future classes.