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District Holds First-Ever State Diploma Commencement for Residents Who Completed GED, NEDP Programs

On December 8, 2016

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) recognized this week the accomplishments of District of Columbia residents who have passed the tests of the 2014 Series General Educational Development (GED) or completed the requirements of the National External Diploma Program (NEDP) and earned the DC State Diploma at a commencement ceremony held Saturday at Howard University.

District of Columbia Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang and District education leaders celebrated the achievements of more than 50 adults on hand to receive the state diploma and encourage them to take the next step in their career pathway, by either enrolling in a four- or two-year college or university, or entering an apprenticeship or industry-certification program.

“Offering the DC State Diploma removes barriers for residents as we continue to build and foster pathways to the middle class,” said Deputy Mayor Niles. “I congratulate the first group of graduates and look forward to celebrating each year as more and more residents take this step toward success.” 

The state diploma not only recognizes residents’ achievements in completing these state-approved high school equivalency exams and programs, but also provides recipients with a secondary credential that will help them as they seek educational and career opportunities in a competitive region. Currently, there are about 60,000 adult District residents who lack a high school diploma. 

“Today’s commencement – the District’s first public celebration of GED and NEDP recipients to earn the DC state diploma – is meant to be an entry point to post-secondary education, apprenticeships, industry-certification programs, and career opportunities,” said State Superintendent Kang. “The DC State Diploma empowers a greater number of District residents to pursue their career aspirations and further educational dreams.”    

OSSE began issuing the District’s first-ever state diploma in the 2015-16 school year to residents who have passed the tests of the GED since 2014 or completed the requirements of the NEDP.  In 2014 and 2013 respectively both the GED and the NEDP underwent significant changes that increased the level of rigor and aligned the programs to the Common Core State Standards.

In recognition of those changes and in an effort to increase economic and educational opportunities for more District residents, OSSE proposed a change to state regulations that would grant the agency authority to award state diplomas to GED or NEDP recipients. As part of the process of drafting a resolution to change state regulations, OSSE researched high school equivalency policies and practices in other states. OSSE also partnered with the DC State Board of Education in a public outreach campaign that began in November 2014 and included three public hearings and three working sessions. The Board of Education overwhelmingly approved the resolution on Jan. 20, 2016.

The new provision recognizes that the GED and NEDP provide a level of rigor worthy of a high school diploma. The state diploma will be recognized as an equivalent to the high school diploma granted pursuant to the District’s graduation requirements, but will not be included in the District’s calculation of the adjusted cohort graduation rate.

The Dec. 3 commencement ceremony was the first public celebration of those recipients. OSSE has reached out to District residents who passed the GED since January 2014 to provide them with a state diploma and approximately 550 residents have received the state diploma through this process. 

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