MO Options Program

JHS Missouri Option Program
 
Joplin High School offers the Missouri Option Program for students who are at-risk of not completing their high school education or have life circumstances that make the program a better option for them to complete their secondary education.

Enrollment in the JHS program is limited, and application must be made through both the guidance and administrative offices. Joplin High School students who meet the criteria (age 17 or above; be a 4th year high school student behind on credits) and who are interested in enrolling in the program should see their guidance counselor to begin the application process.

Missouri Option Program Information
Source: MO Dept. Elementary & Secondary Education website

The Missouri Option Program began during the 2002-2003 school year. To offer this program, local schools must meet requirements established by the GED Testing Service and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Participation is voluntary for schools and students.

The Missouri Option Program is designed to target students who have the capabilities to complete Missouri High School Graduation Requirements, but for a variety of reasons lack the credits needed to graduate with their class and are at risk of leaving school without a high school diploma.

The program specifically targets those students who are 17 years of age or older and are at least one year behind their cohort group or for other significant reasons identified in the local the Missouri Option Program plan.

School Districts approved by DESE to participate in the The Missouri Option Program can continue to receive average daily attendance funds for the participating students. Additionally, students will remain in school and are not counted as dropouts when it is time to take the GED Tests. Once the school district issues a diploma, participants are then counted as high school graduates.

Many people who did not finish high school have knowledge and skills comparable to people who did graduate. The GED (General Educational Development) test is a battery of five multiple-choice tests that ask questions about subjects covered in high school. The exam covers reading, mathematics, social studies, science and writing skills. The writing skills portion includes a 200-word essay. The exam takes about 7 hours to complete.

Frequently Asked Questions
The Missouri Option Program is available in participating public school districts and eligible agencies during the regular school year. To offer this program, local schools must meet requirements established by the GED Testing Service and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Participation is voluntary for schools and students.

When did the Missouri Option Program begin in Missouri?
In 2002, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education initiated the Missouri Option Program. The program is approved by the American Council on Education (owners of the GED Tests) and the Missouri State Board of Education.

What is the Missouri Option Program?
The Missouri Option Program is designed to target students who have the capabilities to complete Missouri High School Graduation Requirements, but for a variety of reasons lack the credits needed to graduate with their class and are at risk of leaving school without a high school diploma.

The program specifically, targets those students who are 17 years of age or older and are at least one year behind their cohort group or for other significant reasons identified in the local Missouri Option Program plan.

Note: For the Missouri Option Program, cohort is defined as when a student started kindergarten, not high school.

How does the Missouri Option Program benefit a school?
School districts approved by DESE to participate in the Missouri Option Program can continue to receive average daily attendance funds for the participating students. Additionally, students remain in school and are not required to drop out when it is time to take the GED Tests. Once the school district issues a high school diploma, participants are then counted as graduates.

Note: A credential that includes the word “diploma” will be awarded. The school district should issue a “regular” high school diploma (the same as awarded to all students by local boards of education) or “other” high school diploma (the same as issued to students in an alternative program).

How does the Missouri Option Program benefit a student?
Students in the Missouri Option Program will be provided guidance and counseling services consistent with the high school program. Ongoing academic/career advisement will be provided by the Missouri Option Program instructor(s), with supplemental guidance and counseling provided, as needed. Students will have access to all educational programs and services available in the school district, have the opportunity to stay in school, receive valuable academic and life-skills instruction, earn a high school diploma, and have the option of taking part in commencement ceremonies.

What is required of Missouri Option Program students?
A minimum of 15 hours of academic instruction per week will be provided. Students must also be enrolled in other school supervised instructional activities (career education courses, elective classes, work experience, etc.) that lead to the student's classification by the district as a full-time student.

The school district/eligible agency should provide a level and quality of education that ensures the integrity of the Missouri Option Program and locally issued High School diploma. School districts may have additional requirements when issuing a regular high school diploma that is consistent with what is required of all students. Students must take the MAP tests appropriate for their age/grade level. They must take a course in government and the functions of government and pass the required tests related to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions.

In addition, they must participate in appropriate substantive counseling and life-skills training that will assist them with job-readiness, financial management and independent living skills.

If a student takes the GED, what documentation will the district receive from the state verifying the student’s results?
The GED Tests are designed to measure the major academic skills and knowledge associated with a high school program of study. Students enrolled in the Missouri Option Program take (and pass) the GED Tests to demonstrate and document the attainment of high school-level skills. The GED score report is one of the academic components required for the awarding of a high school diploma by the local district, and as such, is placed in the student's permanent record. Since the purpose of the Missouri Option Program is to qualify the student for a high school diploma, the scores are only valid in that context.

What happens if a student fails to complete the Missouri Option Program? 
Should a student fail to complete other program requirements even if they have achieved a passing score, they will receive neither a high school diploma nor a certificate of High School Equivalence. Their status will revert to that of a high school dropout. The student would have to take the GED Test as a dropout to be eligible to earn a GED certificate.

What are some common misconceptions about the Missouri Option Program?
The Missouri Option Program is NOT an “early out” program or “easy out” alternative. Schools that attempt to use it for these purposes will be disqualified. It is specifically intended to meet the needs of students who are credit-deficient (for whatever reasons), but who otherwise could be expected to meet regular graduation requirements. This program is NOT just intended to prepare students for the GED Test, it must provide substantive academic content aligned with the school’s regular curriculum and expectations. Students must attend school regularly and have access to the kind of counseling and support services that are available to all students.

What are the requirements for the faculty in the Missouri Option Program?
Teachers working in this program must have a valid Missouri teaching certificate in any secondary-level area or in Adult Education and Literacy (AEL). AEL certification is not required if the educator already has a valid teaching certificate.

Note: Student/teacher ratios are 20/1 for this program.
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