The cuts in the governor’s budget proposal would hit Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE) hard — reducing Kentuckians’ access to the supports needed to prepare for and pass the GED test. GED diploma attainment is a critical economic development issue, and the state has faced dramatic declines in GED graduates in recent years.
Adult education is essential to boosting educational attainment in the state, which can mean greater employment opportunities, increased earnings and the capacity to contribute more in taxes. Yet in 2013, 360,830 working age Kentuckians – 13.1 percent – did not have a high school diploma or equivalency credential, ranking Kentucky 37th in the nation on that measure.
While the state has made some gains in GED credential attainment through the years, more recently Kentucky’s GED graduation rates have dropped dramatically — in large part because of the implementation of a new version of the test two years ago, which is more difficult, among other challenges. KYAE and local adult education providers have worked to mitigate potential negative impacts of the new version of the test, but the state’s GED graduates dropped from 7,083 in 2013-2014 to 1,663 in 2014-2015.
As we have discussed in depth in a previous report, in order to make needed progress in this area, greater investments in KYAE are needed — for instance, for increased marketing, supports for adult education students and professional development for instructors. But adult education is not shielded from potential 9 percent cuts in the governor’s budget (and 4.5 percent cuts this year).
As shown in the graph below, KYAE has already been cut by 26 percent even before adjusting for inflation.
Source: Kentucky Adult Education.
According to a presentation by the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) today to a House budget review subcommittee, the additional cuts in the governor’s budget proposal would exacerbate these issues:
- Negatively impacting enrollment in local adult education programs.
- Reducing funding for instruction, resulting in a loss of 80 instructional staff in local programs.
- Reducing student recruitment efforts of the hundreds of thousands of Kentucky adults without a high school diploma or GED.
- Reducing professional development efforts targeted to improved teacher quality and effectiveness.
With the state’s already challenged GED credential attainment, we need more rather than less investment in adult education to help benefit undereducated Kentuckians and the state as a whole.