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Making a Difference: Reecie Stagnolia

Fast Forward to Success

A lot has been done in education in the last decade to increase Kentuckians’ chances for success, says Reecie Stagnolia, vice president for Kentucky Adult Education, a part of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

The number of adults without a high-school education or equivalency has dropped 24 percent—from 537,000 in 2000 to around 400,000 in 2010.

“I think it’s so important that we don’t leave our adult population behind,” said Stagnolia, whose own father did not complete high school—but later returned to school and became a high-school principal and superintendent in the family’s native Harlan in Eastern Kentucky.

“That 400,000 represents about 15 percent of the adult working population, but certainly we’re not ready to declare victory or say ‘mission accomplished,'” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to do in adult education.”

Part of that strategy in Kentucky will be accomplished with KET’s new Fast Forward, an online study course offering preparation for the new GED® test in math, language arts, social studies, and science.

These customized, self-paced courses include interactive animations, videos, step-by-step instructions, and plenty of practice. An online-based tool, it not only instructs students in these content areas, but provides them with the proficiency needed to take the GED and other equivalency tests via computer.

And thanks to the partnership between KET and Kentucky Adult Education, Fast Forward is now available in all adult education centers statewide.

“KET has been a great partner,” Stagnolia said. “We’re really excited about the new Fast Forward because of those different modalities of print, online, and multimedia that our students can access.”

The versatility of Fast Forward helps students who thrive through independent learning, and other students as well, he said.

“We know today’s adult education students, particularly those in the younger population, having dropped out more recently, have the digital skills to use multimedia products and oftentimes struggle to find time to come to a traditional adult-education center. But we want them connected to our centers for that ‘high-touch’ to support high-tech,” he said.

Stagnolia notes that while a GED credential is an important first step, adults must go beyond that to enter the workforce—an important reason KET classifies its materials as preparing students both for college and careers.

“Whether it’s work-related certification, an associate’s degree, or a four-year baccalaureate degree, the reality is that the jobs of the future are going to require education beyond high school,” he said.

A national leader in the field of adult education, Stagnolia has encouraged other state directors to partner with public television stations—an effort KET actively pursues as well, with outreach efforts directed at other PBS stations.

“I would describe KET as a preferred publisher of GED materials, and because of KET’s long history of excellence in providing first-class support for GED, it only makes sense that when we look at all the new emerging curriculum materials, that we look first to KET,” he said.

Not only has KET supplied materials for adult learners, but it has also moved a step beyond and offers professional development training for adult educators.

“KET has been instrumental in working with us on the Power Path initiative to train our providers across the state in how to screen for and detect disabilities and differences, and put into motion different instructional strategies to help these students going forward,” he said.

“When the students who have dropped out return to us, we have to develop strategies to work with students in a different way. Because if we teach them in the same old way, they’re just going to drop out again.”

Stagnolia emphasizes how state educators and KET have worked together to pinpoint Kentucky’s educational gaps and find ways to seal them for good.

“KET has been a great partner to have, and they’re right here in our own back yard,” he said. “We want the best, highest quality adult-education system for our population, and KET continues to be a national leader.”