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By Sherman Marshall, SGU Adult Basic Education Director

Editor’s Note: This blog post was submitted before the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic ensued. The pandemic’s ramifications have halted much of GED programming and testing at TCUs, though project directors and GED instructors continue efforts to stay in contact with and support their students. We hope it won’t be long before this great work resumes!

The primary objective of the Dollar General GED/HSE Program is to increase the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives pursuing and achieving their high school equivalency credentials. The Sinte Gleska University (SGU) Adult Basic Education department set an ambitious goal to expand access to GED preparation services in underserved communities and populations on the Rosebud Reservation in 2019-20. A key component of these expansion efforts included offering GED tutoring at the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST) Adult Correctional Facility. Program planning discussions began in the summer of 2019 with Program Specialist, Tennille Black Feather.

GED Tutor, Reginald Reifel (left) and RST Adult Corrections Program Specialist, Clifford Fast Horse (right)

The RST Adult Correctional Facility provides a variety of programming to promote the rehabilitation and reintegration of adult offenders through a collaborative effort between community service providers and facility staff. Melissa Eagle Bear, Facility Administrator, said, “Due to the significant number of offenders that do not have a high school diploma, getting a GED certificate is essential for the long-term success of the offender and for reducing recidivism.”

The SGU Adult Basic Education department uses a classroom in the correctional facility to provide weekly GED tutoring services on Monday and Friday mornings. Computers are available in the classroom to administer assessments and practice tests. GED Tutor Reginald Reifel began offering tutoring services on September 20, 2019. A total of four male offenders completed the enrollment process in September and began attending class in October 2019.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Adult Corrections Facility Exterior

While three of the students served at the correctional facility have since been transferred or released, two students progressed far enough to take GED practice tests and post-assessments. One student demonstrated a three-grade level increase on a post-assessment after four months of attendance. The department administers post-tests after 40 to 60 hours of instruction. Results from the post-test are compared to the student’s pretest to measure educational progress. On average, students can expect to demonstrate an increase of two grade levels on a post-test, so seeing even higher grade level increases was encouraging.

The SGU Adult Basic Education department will continue to identify potential students for the corrections GED program with Program Specialist, Clifford Fast Horse.

Melissa Eagle Bear hopes the GED program will continue to provide tutoring as well as training and resources for correctional officers to assist those students pursuing their GED. The Adult Basic Education staff will work with those students being released from the correctional facility to continue their studies at one of the department’s four offices or community tutoring sites to ensure their successful transition back into the tribal community.