Des Moines Area Community College
KnowHow2GO Iowa and the GED Fast Track Academy
DMACC invested considerable time in developing and fine tuning the GED Fast Track Academy. The
curriculum and syllabi in particular were scrutinized and went through several modifications over the
last 18 months. In the summer, however, I began to focus my thoughts and planning on sustaining this
project beyond the ICAN grant.
One strategy outlined in my original proposal was to present DMACC’s project to a statewide conference
in an effort to grow the concept in Iowa. July 2011 I presented a session on our ICAN grant at the
IALL/ABE Summer Institute. This is a large Midwest conference and this year there were approximately
200 attendees. My session was attended by upwards of 25 program coordinators from Iowa, Wisconsin
and Nebraska. Several colleges had already implemented similar projects; whereas several others were
making plans to move in this direction. I received very positive feedback that the lessons learned at
DMACC would be helpful in the planning processes underway at other community colleges. The Iowa
Department of Education also placed my handouts and PPT on their website as an added resource.
A second idea came to fruition when I was asked to set up a new program at DMACC that would provide
a more structured curriculum much like the GED Academy. This new class is currently in its fourth week
at DMACC’s Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) site and I have quite simply implemented the GED
Academy curriculum and syllabi at IWD. The daily hours are shorter but the total contact hours have
increased. (The original GED Academy met 5 days at 8 hours per day for a total of 40 hours. The IWD
class meets 5 days at 3 hours per day for a total of 75 hours.) The increase in contact hours allows me to
relax the minimum placement scores somewhat and ensures better retention of key concepts covered
particularly in the areas of math and writing.
As I approach the fourth week of this new class, I am energized by the student’s progress. I am confident
many students will benefit from the curriculum first developed and tested with the help and support of
ICAN. Yesterday a student lingered after class to ask me if she could enroll in college while she was
enrolled in this GED class and my response of course was yes UCAN ! There is no question the DMACC/
ICAN grant has changed many lives in the past year. It is very satisfying to see that DMACC supports
sustaining it in the year ahead.
October 1, 2011
Submitted by Nancy Coursen