By Aubrie Tolliver SYRACUSE N.Y. (NCC News) — Syracuse residents are being offered a second chance — maybe even a first — at obtaining their high school diploma.
The Syracuse City School District is offering free classes at the Sidney Johnson Vocational Center in Syracuse, which are designed to help residents prepare for the high school equivalency test. The TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) replaced the GED exam in the state of New York back in 2013.
The school district’s Adult Education Center is federally funded and $2,862,753 are designated to help serve students who are age 21 or older and do not have a high school diploma. With the government awards, the program is able to not only offer the classes for free, but it also employs full-time and part-time teachers and pays for needed materials.
“The ultimate goal, in the view of the government, was to help employment,” said Kelli Cooney, the TASC Coordinator for the Syracuse City School District.
In 2015, 8.6 percent of New York residents without a high school diploma were unemployed. But, with the degree, five percent were unemployed–a 3.6 percent difference. In other terms, there were 712,648 more New York residents with a diploma are employed in 2015 than those without it.
“Without a diploma you’re relegated to jobs that don’t pay a living wage,” said Bonnie Lane, a 15-year teacher at the Johnson Center.
At just 20 years old, Siair Summerville is one of the youngest students in the class. She originally believed she would not need her diploma, but has since come to find that not to be the case.
“I did try to get my GED before but then I thought, ‘I don’t need it. I’m just going to work,'” Summerville said. “But now, it’s getting to the point where I can’t get a decent job without my GED so now I’m back.”
The TASC is a two-day exam. In 8.5 hours, test takers are assessed on their knowledge in subjects such as math, science, social studies, reading and writing.
Other students taking the class intend to further their education after passing the course and the exam. Some attend community colleges, such as Onondaga Community College, or trade schools.