Big Bend's education program growing

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MOSES LAKE — The number of students in the Adult Education Program at Big Bend Community College has increased 25 percent from the same period last year. Program director Tyler Wallace reported on the program during the regular meeting of BBCC trustees Monday.

The program had 1,104 students in fall quarter 2016, Wallace said. The college’s high school diploma program graduated its largest class to date, 115 students, in spring 2016, he said.

The graduation ceremony overflowed its traditional venue at the Wallenstien Theater, he said, with standing room only. Graduation for the next class is June 14, 2017; the class might be so big college officials would have to move the ceremony, he said.

Trustee Stephen McFadden asked if growth was expected to continue at that pace. Wallace said program officials think it’s leveling off.

One reason for the growth is that more classes are being offered, he said, including a new site at Warden High School. “More classes and bigger classes.”

College officials are working to enhance online options as well. In some communities there are not enough people for a full class, and program administrators are trying to set up a class where all those students would log in at the same time. “Stay tuned,” Wallace said.

Adult Basic Education actually offers five different options, including high school diplomas or the equivalent, English as a second language, and a makeup math class for people who don’t qualify for college. Students who finish the math class are doing as well or better, when they get to the college math class, than students who qualified for college math classes initially.

The fifth class is designed for students who have dropped out of high school; the goal is to help those kids get a high school diploma. Big Bend is partnering with Ephrata High School on that program, he said.

In answer to a question from McFadden, Wallace said the highest participation in the ABE program is in the winter. Many of its students work in seasonal jobs, he said, and use the layoff period to continue their education. College officials are working to make it easier for students in ESL classes to get a GED (or high school diploma) at the same time.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columibabasinherald.com.

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