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AMADOR COUNTY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

ADULT BASIC EDUCATION (ABE)

Authority for Review

Grand Jury jurisdiction provided by Penal Code Section 925.

Background

Periodic review of local districts.

Method of Review

Interview with the Superintendent of Schools Interview with Alternative Education Administrator
Interviews with ABE teacher and students
Review of applicable California Education Codes
Review of Board Policy manuals and Alternative Programs and Services brochure
On-site visits

Findings

The ABE program offers individual instruction to adults age 18 and older. Emphasis is on earning a regular high school diploma or preparation for the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) examination. Attention is given to improving reading comprehension and math skills, developing writing skills, increasing computer competencies and learning new skills. Hours are flexible to accommodate the needs of adults with families or work.

Regular high school students who want to make up failed classes can attend the ABE program concurrently and graduate on time. They are referred to the ABE at Independence High School by their school counselors. Structured individualized programs are set and closely monitored.

The ABE classes are from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, except only two nights during the summer. The program is state sponsored through an apportionment for the number of students who attend. Attendance by 10 to 15 students each evening is typical, though sometimes up to 40 may attend due to the flexible drop-in schedule. Approximately 130 students attend the ABE program per year, with about 15 of these receiving the Amador County Adult Education high school diploma.

The ABE program offers its staff and facilities to the Greater Avenues to Independence (GAIN) program. The GAIN program assists in meeting the state requirement that anyone age 18 or older have or seek a high school diploma in order to receive welfare. Presently 8 to 12 GAIN students meet per week. Since most of these students are young parents, certified child care is provided on site.

The second part of the Adult Education program is the community fee-based classes. These are self-enhancement or personal growth courses for adults. Examples are a black and white photography class, a woodworking class, and a financial planning class. Class fees of $50 to $100 are paid directly to the school district to fully cover instructor's fees and expenses. The Alternative Education Administrator is interested in adding new classes for community members.

Program publicity is provided by announcements in the local newspaper and a simple brochure. This brochure, available at Independence High School and the School District Administration Office, briefly explains some of the alternative education programs. Adult Basic Education is one of these programs. Information regarding the ABE program is also provided to high school students by counselors.

Conclusions

The ABE program encourages adult students to earn a high school diploma or a GED. The program appears to be flexible, individualized and supportive.

The fee-based self-enhancement classes encourage adults to continue learning at affordable rates in a local facility.

The school district makes full use of its facility at Independence High School by using the site for the adult program after regular school hours.

Further public exposure would benefit the community and the program.

Recommendations

Increase publicity in the local media for all programs, especially the adult high school diploma and GED programs.

Expand the fee-based service to the community by offering a wider selection of classes in personal growth and self-enhancement.

Response Required

The Amador County Grand Jury requests the Amador County Unified School District respond to this report within 90 days as required by Penal Code Section 933(c).
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