Fulton continues to offer Adult Education and Literacy classes, even with a drop in attendance lately.

AEL classes have been offered in Callaway County for many years now. The AEL classes stopped being offered in 2013, which caused those interested in having to travel to Jefferson City or Columbia for in-person classes, according to Kellie Pontius, community organizer for Central Missouri Community Action.

In 2014, AEL classes were offered again after numerous organizations joined together to create the Callaway County HiSET Advisory Council. These organizations include the Callaway County Health Department, Department of Corrections, Fulton Housing Authority and the Callaway Resource Network, according to Pontius.

The classes have continued since 2014. These classes allow for adults to prepare to take the HiSET, which replaced the GED in Missouri for high school equivalency.

Classes in Fulton are offered twice per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The classes are held at the John C. Harris Community Center (350 Sycamore St.) in the morning from 9 a.m.-noon and in the evening from 6-9 p.m.

AEL classes are also offered in Eldon, Versailles and Jefferson City.

Ron Jewell, assistant AEL program director with Mid-MO Learning Center, said the classes are free to attend. There is a cost to take the HiSET exam.

He said people take the AEL classes for a variety of reasons. Some people get the HiSET to pursue postsecondary education, for employment opportunities or just to have it, Jewell said.

To take the AEL classes, you must be 17 years or older. Jewell said 16 year olds can take the class if a waiver is filled out, but most people who take the class are 17 or older.

All of the AEL teachers are certified by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jewell said.

Jewell said lately they have been trying to determine why attendance has been decreasing at the AEL classes. He said some of it could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of it probably is kind of leftover from the pandemic,” Jewell said. “People just got used to not going out, you know, not participating.”

Another possible reason for decreasing attendance is not doing enough marketing and advertising, Jewell said. He said decreased attendance is not a local issue, and is happening around the state.

Jewell said the AEL classes are customized to each individual and caters to individual needs. He said there is not a set length to how long it takes to complete the course.

“We tell students that if you’re attending class and you’re putting time in with us, I don’t care how long you’re with us,” Jewell said. “We’ve got students with us three or four years before they are ready to take the test.”

Some students can be through the class is as quickly as a couple of months, Jewell said.

To register for classes or learn more information, call 573-659-3122. An orientation must be completed before classes can be attended. Jewell said they don’t have an orientation scheduled yet for 2023, as they are waiting for more people to register.

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