New Mexico libraries offers adult learners second chance at HS diploma

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A new program targeting adult learners led by the educational publishing company Gale and the New Mexico State Library now allows students to earn a high school diploma while studying from home.

The company, which is a division of the edtech firm Cengage, announced on Tuesday that six New Mexico libraries are participating in its Career Online High School program, which is advertised as offering students “a second chance.” Enrollment is limited, but free, the company said, requiring only a library card and for the students to be at least 19 years old.

Lori Thornton, the public services bureau chief at New Mexico State Library, said in a press release that the program will help adults reenter the educational system and update their skills in growing economic sectors.

“Public libraries have never been more essential and are embracing a new role as agents of transformative social engagement, actively working to better serve their communities and provide more opportunities. COHS is one of those opportunities and it can make a huge difference in people’s lives and the economic well-being of the community and the state,” Thornton said.

In 2017, the national high-school graduation rate was around 85%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, but New Mexico has in recent years held the spot as the state with the lowest graduation rate in the country at 74%.

Through the platform, which offers students access to coaches and instructors while they study for a diploma, state officials said they hope to boost the skills of more adults without high school diplomas.

The initiative follows a national trend in online services that target adult learners seeking to improve their skills and enter new fields. The Biden administration has made apprenticeship programs and business partnerships with universities, particularly for Black and minority students, a key pillar of the federal education platform.

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