HOLLIDAYSBURG — The option to prepare for Pennsylvania’s high school diploma equivalency exam has returned to the Blair County Prison.
“We are officially back up and running as of a week ago,” Warden Abbie Tate told the prison board at its monthly meeting where she spoke of the immediate popularity of what’s referred to as the GED — General Education Development — program.
Based on the November report provided for the board, the prison’s GED program has 16 male and nine female inmate participants.
Tate told the board that within the first hour of making a GED program available, 20 inmates were signed up.
Several years have passed since the county prison offered a GED class for inmates with follow-up testing. The prison’s program was halted in January 2014 after testing moved from a paper exam to a computerized test that could only be taken at a designated testing site.
Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies is working with Blair County Prison to back the GED program, Deputy Warden Shaun Edmundson said.
The regional nonprofit agency, he added, provides a teacher who comes to the prison two days a week, with time in the morning for the male inmates and in the afternoon for the female inmates.
HiSet is the online computer testing site that inmates will use for GED certification tests.
“Our goal is to have a case manager trained to administer the online tests,” Edmundson said. “We also plan to have a deputy warden trained to HiSet test the inmates soon.”
Inmates who successfully complete the tests in math, writing, science and social studies will be awarded a Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma issued by the state Department of Education.
The effort to restore the GED program is part of an ongoing effort that prison administrators made this year to restore programs that were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The November report to the prison board shows a program to improve parenting skills is growing, with 27 male and 16 female inmates.
Participants in the drug and alcohol pre-release program, based on the November report, had 45 female and 13 male inmates.
The report also indicated that 18 inmates were enrolled in a class offered by Reformers Unanimous, that five males enrolled in the re-entry program offered by Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies and six inmates attended a presentation by the Salvation Army.
County leaders have also made efforts toward reintroducing a work release program for inmates with court approval.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.