Missouri lawmakers look to create four adult high schools in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers are looking to help adults be successful in their careers.

The Missouri House passed House Bill 680, which would allow four adult high schools to be built in Missouri, where people 21 and older could obtain a high school diploma. 

"Because they can't go back to high school after 21," State Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, a sponsor of the bill, said. "Basically, we will find out what gaps those people missed to get their actual high school degree."

According to a news release, the placement of the schools would be in a rural, urban and suburban areas, testing the success of the schools in different locations. 

Wasson said after learning about the model of a similar program in Indiana, the four high school locations would be in St.Louis, Springfield, southeast Missouri and central Missouri. 

Currently, anyone older than 21 has to receive a high school equivalence, known as a GED, to apply for many jobs. According to a report done by the National Center for Education, the median earnings for a person without a diploma were 20 percent lower than the median earnings for a person with a high school diploma in 2014. 

Wasson said obtaining a high school diploma seems important when employers are considering applicants.

"I know they can get a GED today, but I think a lot of employers, I think there's a little bit of stigma there," Wasson said. "The employers maybe a little bit reluctant to hire."

Wasson said the new adult high schools would be much same as normal high schools with the same type of teachers, courses and class vacations. 

"We will have some night-time classes as well as day classes," Wasson said. 

Wasson said the program would help adults receive a high school diploma while providing services for job training and success.

"I would call it the soft skills, how to interview for jobs; how you might keep the job; once you got it, how important it is to maybe show up on time for work," Wasson said. "Some simple things but important things if you want to keep employed."

Based on Indiana's experience, Wasson said he believes the program will be successful. 

"The number that really impressed me the most in Indiana is there are 11 schools. 88 percent of their students six months after they graduated were either had a job or were in job training," Wasson said. 

David Deuser, a construction worker who obtained his GED in 2010, said the adult high school seems a great idea for people to get a job.

"Honestly, the fact is it going to give you the chance to get a job, a good job instead of a minimum wage job," Deuser said. "It's gonna allow you to get career, not just a job."

Wasson said the job training will be paid with federal funds and would not cost students much money.