A new program will help Missourians who didn’t finish high school earn their diploma online at zero cost.
About 25% of adults over the age of 25 without a high school diploma or equivalency were living in poverty in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has teamed up with Graduation Alliance to provide the Missouri Workforce Diploma Program curriculum. Accreditation runs through Cognia, the leading accreditor for K-12 public and private schools across the United States. In 2022 the Missouri General Assembly passed SB 718 to offer the program free of charge.
Graduation Alliance’s website says there are no textbooks or hidden fees. To qualify, you must be a Missouri resident, 21 years or older, and have completed a portion of your 10th-grade year. Participants must also have computer access to the internet. Those who already have a GED aren’t eligible for the program.
“The real goal is to help them get in the workforce and have a sustainable career,” Graduation Alliance Chief Development Officer Greg Harp told The Heartlander.
This is a traditional high school diploma that will be accepted by colleges, universities, employers and the military. Additionally, students will have the chance to earn extra career certifications and gain new skill sets while earning their diploma.
Participants will be able to work on earning their diploma at any time of the night or day, as long as deadlines and expectations are met.
“What we’ve found is, it’s important to have deadlines to keep people focused on what they are doing in order to get them in and out of the program. But it is completely flexible and asynchronous, based on their schedule.”
This particular workforce diploma program is offered through Graduation Alliance in various states, and has already borne fruit in states such as Kansas – where the success rate is currently at 60%.
Harp says he is very proud of what has been accomplished so far and things are only going to get better, adding he has high hopes for the program in Missouri.