New Accelerated Class Offers Free GED Prep

2:25 PM, Sep 27, 2013   |    comments
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Update: Mikki Bell passed her GED exam on Friday.

It's the second chance Mikki Bell thought she'd never get.

"I was already behind," Bell said. "There wasn't no hope."

Bell dropped out of Rutland High School last May after an unexpected pregnancy. 

She's not alone.

According to the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, 5.5 percent of high schoolers in the Bibb County School District dropped out in 2012.

That's almost 1,400 students.

That same year, Bibb County graduated slightly more than half their students.

In August, Bell heard about Paxen Learning Corporation's GED Xcelerator program.

That's an accelerated program for students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school.

It helps students prepare for the GED exam in four weeks, and thanks to federal funding, it's completely free.

The program gives students a stipend of $200 for passing the exam, $100 more is offered to students who get into a college and another $100 on top of that for students who improve their first assessment exam score by two grade levels.

The first assessment is taken prior to beginning the class. Students must score between a seventh- and eighth-grade level on the assessment to be accepted into the class.

The first five students of the Bibb County program completed their last course Wednesday. They will take the GED exam on Friday. 

But what exactly is getting that GED worth?

Program coordinator Shermesa Saffold says employers view a GED certificate in the same way as a high school diploma.

"They learn the same math, science, English and social studies. They're just taking a different route to obtain that," Saffold said. "It holds value."

Without passing the exam, Bell says there are limited opportunities for her to get ahead.

"I'd probably be working at fast food places," Bell said. "I couldn't really further my education or get a real job."

Bell says she hopes to be a nurse one day, and that getting her GED is the first step to that dream.

For more information, call Bibb County's Paxen office at 478-254-8272.

Follow 13WMAZ's Anita Oh on Twitter @anita_oh.

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