The Garden City’s ALC began in the mid 80’s as a tutoring center concentrating on adult education. In 1986, Garden City Community College (GCCC) stepped in with a state-funded grant, and the ALC was born.
The adult education programs were located in a large utility van, purchased and sponsored by the United Methodist Church, called, “Learn and Earn.” The ALC housed 27 students who studied English as a Second Language (ESL) and the General Education Development (GED). The classes were taught by a staff of seven volunteers and one paid staff person. During the same year, the United States began to grant amnesty to foreign-born citizens and gave them opportunities for expedited work and residency legalization processes. That marked the beginning of the ALC’s citizenship classes. Student enrollment grew significantly with the added refugee and literacy programs. This meant for ALC to make yet another move to accommodate more students and a growing teaching staff. Students spoke a variety of languages including Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Laotian, Hmong, Cambodian, German, and Chinese and several different dialects. The GED test was offered in English, Spanish, and French. The cost of the GED test was $4.00 per subject and there was no charge for the tutoring. Students could attend on an open-entry/open-exit basis. 21 years later, the cost for the GED test is $68.00.
The adult education programs modernized the way in which they provide services and are now accountable for their participants’ success. One of the biggest changes of the ALC over the past ten years has been the increased emphasis on accountability and program quality. Ten years ago, the focus of the adult education program relied solely on student recruitment and attendance. The goal was to get a student to participate for 12 or more hours. Now, to be successful as a program, the students also need to demonstrate proof of academic success as measured by improved scores on standardized assessments (CASAS). A significant portion of funding is determined by the percentage of student achievements. Programs are also evaluated using a rigorous set of quality indicators ranging from levels of student success, amount of local financial support, and specific program procedures to level teacher education and staff development. The program’s score on quality indicators also determines a significant portion of funding. These indicators are adjusted on a yearly basis.