Cherokee Nation Career Services offers high school equivalency testing

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter
09/02/2019 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Billie Fain, testing assistant, and Landra Alberty, manager of Alternative Education and Assessment for the Cherokee Nation, offers high school equivalency testing – the HiSET and GED – through Adult Education within Career Services. D. SEAN ROWLEY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – As the United States continues to journey into a realm of sophisticated technology, education has become ever more important.

As recently as 1950, only about half of Americans graduated from high school, but anyone without a high school diploma today is at a disadvantage.

The Cherokee Nation offers high school equivalency testing – including the HiSET exam – to help CN citizens and non-Natives achieve that basic level of academic attainment that is generally expected across the job market and in higher education. The tests are offered through the Career Services’ Adult Education program.

“HiSET test is a five-part test that states use in the process of issuing a high school credential. It is a high school diploma,” Landra Alberty, Alternative Education and Assessment manager, said. “For many years we only had the GED, but in 2014, there were two other companies that worked with the state of Oklahoma. There are three tests that can be used. The TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) is also available, but we use the GED and HiSET.”

Many seeking high school equivalency choose the HiSET exam. It can be taken as a traditional test on paper, while the CN offers the GED as a computer examination. HiSET is also less expensive. The paper test is $15 per section, or $75 to take the complete test of reading, writing, math, science and social studies. It is also offered elsewhere on computer for $10.75 per section, or $53.75. The GED has four sections – language arts, science, math and social studies – but costs $34 each or $136 total.

“The HiSET gives our students the paper option if they aren’t very comfortable using a computer,” Alberty said. “But the HiSET is formatted like the GED. We also elected to go with the paper-based HiSET.”

Alberty said the content of the GED and HiSET are not significantly different.

“When we hold our preparation classes, we don’t differentiate between homework or what we teach them,” she said. “We teach toward the GED and the information is pretty much the same. There is a little bit of difference in the math section. HiSET requires only a four-function calculator, while a scientific calculator is needed for the GED.”

The HiSET has become an increasingly visible option for students applying for an equivalency exam through CN Adult Education. The HiSET is administered once a month, and 75 were given during 2018 in Tahlequah and Pryor.

“In the last two years, we have graduated 110 GED and HiSET testers, and that is just our Native students,” Alberty said. “For Natives, we provide all the materials, class instruction and pay for the test. We also assist non-Native students. They can come in and we can give them materials, but they do have to pay for their tests on their own.”

Alberty said the list of reasons students don’t finish high school is as long as the list of students. It is rarely a case of the kid too lazy to go to class. More often a student’s academic pursuit is derailed by personal tragedy, a chaotic home life or the student needing to find employment to help a financially strapped household.

“A lot of factors prevent students from completing high school,” she said. “Some who apply are 16 or 17, but we try to encourage them to stay in school. Due to extenuating circumstances, some aren’t able to do that. Those students must have permission from a parent and the last school they attended. The 16- or 17-year-old agreement has to be filled out and notarized before we will let them enroll in class.”

The tribe’s HiSET and GED programs are self-funded, but also adhere to all state rules and regulations. Career Services can also accommodate testers with disabilities or special conditions or needs. Alberty said some testers are allowed double time or extra time due to disabilities, and another diabetic student was allowed food and drink during the exam, and took the test alone.

Billie Fain, testing assistant, said she is proud to be part of an important community service offered by the CN.

“People from all over schedule their tests here,” Fain said. “I am always glad we have that reach. I like working here. I administer all the tests, and we also offer the HiSET in Spanish.”

CN high school equivalency classes are offered in other locales within the tribe’s jurisdiction, including Stilwell, Claremore, Jay, Belfonte, Pryor, Catoosa, Westville and Sallisaw. For more information, call 918-458-0577.
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