Editor's note: Helping Hands is a Sunday column offering our area nonprofit groups a chance to talk about their work. If your group would like to be considered for participation, email jperry@dlnewspapers.com. This column is by Mary Simon, an instructor at Lakes Area Adult Education in Detroit Lakes.

Adult Basic Education is not so basic anymore.

On July 1, the name will change at the state and local level from Adult Basic Education to Adult Education. This change reflects growth in how Adult Education is offered. Adult Education goes beyond mastering basic skills. The focus today is on College and Career Ready, Digital Literacy, and Transitional Job-related Standards of Instruction.

Adult Education today addresses a variety of goals such as achieving high school equivalency with a GED or Adult Diploma, attaining or enhancing employment, preparing learners for postsecondary education and/or job skills training, and helping learners to become self-sufficient. Adult Education offers English as a Second Language courses as well, allowing learners to learn to speak and write the English Language and study for the Citizenship Test.

Mary Simon, Lakes Area Adult Education
Mary Simon, Lakes Area Adult Education

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New this year, Detroit Lakes is servicing additional communities. We now cover Perham-Dent, Frazee-Vergas, New York Mills and Pelican Rapids, as well as Becker County Jail, Lake Park- Audubon, Rothsay, Ada-Borup, Norman County East and Ulen-Hitterdahl. Therefore, effective July 1, Detroit Lakes Adult Basic Education will change its name to Lakes Area Adult Education.

Since March 17, all Adult Education sites have been temporally closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as it is safe to do so, the following sites will be open again for face to face instruction: M/State, Compassion House and Becker County Jail in Detroit Lakes; Niijii Radio and White Earth Land Recovery Building in Callaway; Old House School Building in Perham; School Media Center in Frazee; public school buildings in New York Mills, Rothsay, Ada and Ulen; and the Viking Library in Pelican Rapids. Other locations can be established as needed.

Distance learning will continue to be an option for learners.

Lakes Area Adult Education always welcomes new students and is free to all qualifying students. To qualify, learners must not be currently enrolled in the public K-12 school system and have a demonstrated need for adult education services to successfully participate in secondary education, postsecondary education, or career pathways.

Lakes Area Adult Education also offers classes throughout the year which are listed in the Community Education Catalog. These classes are free to eligible students and for a small fee for others. Also welcome are new Americans learning English, citizenship and community skills.

Most learners in the program come to prepare to take the GED, which is a high school equivalency exam. This exam is timed and covers four subjects: Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts. The students receive instruction in the areas of need and then take a practice test for each subject before registering to take the tests.

Students generally take one to two tests at a time, and tests are offered about twice a month. Scholarships are available for the tests.

A growing number of students choose the option of working toward an Adult Diploma. With this option, credit can be given for previous high school credits. Students must show proficiency in all the subject areas, but there are a variety of ways to accomplish that. An online portfolio is presented to the state. This option provides an opportunity to obtain high school equivalency without taking a timed test.

During the pandemic, adult instruction is offered through distance learning in the method preferred by the students.

Most are studying with online programs which are individualized to meet student need. All programming is flexible. In Adult Education we do everything we can to assure success of the students.

Lakes Area Adult Education will most likely move to summer hours sometime in May. If interested, contact Adult Education at 218-844-5760 or afish@detlakes.k12.mn.us.