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ABLE’s scope for literacy expands

PROCTORVILLE — To listen to Adam Fry talk about adult literacy programs, it’s not so much that an image change is needed. Rather simply an expansion of how adult literacy is looked at today.

When such programs started across the country, the main beneficiaries were older adults who had been pushed out the high school door with little or no ability to read even basic street signs. To reach out to those was the main goal of those learn-to-read programs.

Today, however, adult literacy has a broader clientele — individuals who have dropped out of high school and now want to get that diploma through the GED program.

That’s what the Lawrence County ABLE program finds are the needs of the majority of those asking for help, says Fry, director of the ABLE program at the Ohio University Proctorville Center, that will see more than 100 clients a year.

“We prepare people for the GED, which is a lot more difficult than people think,” Fry said. “We also prepare people for pre-employment tests and college placement testing.”

The program, whose acronym stands for Adult Basic Literacy Education, is open to any Ohio resident who is 16 years or older and offers one-on-one tutoring on a variety of subjects. Basic reading is still offered, but tutoring on the math and writing sections of the GED and other tests is more in demand.

“We have had students for two weeks or two years,” Fry said.

The GED is a five-part, 250-multiple choice question exam that can give a high school dropout that much-valued diploma, which is not, Fry stresses, a second-rate document.

“There is a stigma attached to it,” he said. “It is more difficult to pass the GED than stay in high school. The GED requires a lot of discipline to go through the process.”

Upon the completion of the tutoring program, ABLE will pay the students’ cost to take the GED.

Fry finds that most of the students who come through the ABLE program have dropped out of high school for what he calls “social reasons.”

That can range from teen pregnancy to personality conflicts with the administration to high school cliquishness.

“Rarely is it an intelligence issue,” he said. “We get the people who fall through the cracks.”

Each Monday the Proctorville Center has a new student orientation starting at 10 a.m. where prospective clients can drop by to check out the program.

“This is a good investment for the taxpayer,” Fry said. “We are instrumental in decreasing public assistance.”