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Not the GED

External Diploma Program at OCM BOCES provides another route to a high school diploma

Erieville resident Brian Eberst, right, stands with his External Diploma Program Assessor Bunnie Hannum of OCM BOCES and displays his newly-acquired EDP high school diploma.

Erieville resident Brian Eberst, right, stands with his External Diploma Program Assessor Bunnie Hannum of OCM BOCES and displays his newly-acquired EDP high school diploma.

— In 2009, Erieville resident Brian Eberst finished four years at Cazenovia High School, where he was given a diploma for completing an Individualized Education Program.

Eberst was advised to take the GED equivalency exam to complete his high school education.

However, test taking was not a strong point for Eberst, and he found that studying for the eight-hour GED exam was not the best route for him.

Fortunately, Eberst became enrolled in Cazenovia Public Library’s Adult Literacy program, where Cindy McCall, literacy coordinator, looked over other options with him.

McCall suggested that Brian enter the External Diploma Program (EDP) offered at OCM BOCES in Liverpool. The EDP provides another way to earn a high school diploma without taking lengthy exams.

Instead, students complete a series of take-home booklets over the course of five to six months. The students have weekly one-on-one meetings with an assigned assessor to review the booklets.

Brian’s assessor, Bunnie Hannum, explained that the EDP focuses on imperative real-life skills, including understanding government and politics, learning how to apply for a job or participate in an interview, understanding print and television media as well as learning about critical health issues such as heart disease, proper nutrition and first aid.

Participants in the EDP must possess reading and math skills at a high school level as assessed by an adult literacy exam, the Test of Basic Education (TABE). EDP students at OCM BOCES also must be at least 21 years of age. This requirement ensures that students enter the program having the skills and basic knowledge learned from living on one’s own, working or raising a family.

Eberst was a good candidate for the program as he had managed to work 40 hours a week with two part-time jobs (and sometimes three) since finishing high school and while continuing his studies. With support from Cazenovia Library Literacy tutor Bill Ryan, Eberst demonstrated high school level skills on the TABE test and enrolled in the EDP in November of 2011.

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