CNCC offering free ESL, GED courses
Craig residents interested in obtaining their GED or learning English as a second language can receive free classes from Colorado Northwestern Community College starting this month. Administrators at CNCC received grant funding from the Colorado Department of Education to provide classes and textbooks to every student interested in the class.
Preliminary testing for the GED classes has already begun, and those still interested can schedule an appointment for a test. Preliminary testing is done to measure a starting point for students. ESL students will begin benchmark testing on Aug. 16.
Though this is not the first year for free classes or for the grant, CNCC’s director of adult basic education Annette Burrow said that the program must meet certain goals to receive further funding. Currently, both programs receive a combined $190,466 per year for four years. To continue receiving money, 65% of learners must be post-tested after finishing their courses, and of this 65% of students, 38% have to level up in the program.
“That doesn’t sound very hard, but it really does take a lot of work to move complete levels,” Burrow said. “And if we don’t get at least 65% of our learners tested and 38% to level up, they will drop our grant because we have to show our accountability for getting this money — that we’re actually teaching and they’re actually learning something. If we don’t meet those numbers, then they will drop our grant.”
Burrow said that students receive free textbooks to go with their lessons, and for ESL students, that includes grammar and reading books. Each student who signs up will receive three or four books for the course free of charge. She also said that around 20 usually take GED courses while up to 60 ESL students take classes throughout the year. The GED program received a AEFLA (Adult Education and Family Literacy Act) grant, and the ESL course is funded by the IELCE (Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education) grant.
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GED is currently a hybrid online/in-person course, while every ESL program except for the intermediate course is in person. The GED course also features six in-person classes per week.
“Even if they do (all of their coursework) on the computer, we’ve got six classes per week where they can come up and get all the one-on-one help they need with a teacher in that subject that they’re struggling in,” Burrow said.
Nikki Robinson, career navigator at CNCC, said that administrators can adjust preliminary testing to work with prospective students’ work scheduling.
“I have one student right now — because he works — he’s on his break taking the first part of the test, and then he’ll schedule the next time to take other sections during other breaks,” Robinson said.
CNCC’s program also provides job navigation to help students apply their new skills to the workforce. Robinson said that the program works with local businesses and the Workforce Center to provide employment opportunities. Robinson also said that the Workforce Center pays half of students’ salaries and employers pay the other half.
“It’s basically a paid internship,” Robinson said.
Burrow said that it’s not just the students who gain something by the end of the program, but the administrators do, too.
“It’s very rewarding to help them further their education — whether it’s to get their GED, or whether it’s to learn English,” Burrow said. “They’re bettering their lives, and it’s just very rewarding to help people better their lives. I love helping people. My main passion is to help people, and I love it.”
People interested in taking an ESL or a GED course can contact Burrow at 970-824-0831.
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