Student in alternative education program graduates early from high school


Student in alternative education program graduates early from high school

Mackenzie Covert, Indiana


Mackenzie (right) with her older sister

Mackenzie Covert, age seventeen, had to grow up quickly. She lives with her mother who works long hours, so she was frequently alone once her older sister went off to college. More mature than most of her peers, Mackenzie didn’t feel she fit into the social scene at her local high school in Indiana.

Mackenzie’s sister became her role model. Her sister had transferred from their traditional high school to the Community Opportunity Responsibility Education (CORE) alternative education program, which she loved, and she received her high school diploma early. So when Mackenzie’s guidance counselor recommended CORE to her, she followed in her sister’s footsteps.

CORE provides an alternative education to meet the needs of students in the 9th through 12th grade who learn better in a nontraditional setting. It offers customized curriculum, aligned with the requirements of the Indiana Department of Education, and personalized learning to a small student base.

Mackenzie enrolled in CORE’s evening program in her sophomore year. As a junior, she attended the day program, which includes math and English labs to help students prepare for Indiana’s end-of-course assessments, a literature and film class, and physical education. Mackenzie liked CORE’s social atmosphere because she was now part of a small community of students; there were no cliques and everybody was friendly with each other.

CORE uses GradPoint®, a set of online courses and services now part of the Pearson Connexus suite of offerings, to provide students with a customized curriculum. Mackenzie took digital courses ranging from chemistry and government to geometry and English. Because the courses are self-paced, Mackenzie said she never felt “stuck.” She never thought, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t know what I’m doing.” The personalized learning solution enabled her to “take control” of her own education.

What I loved about GradPoint was that I could go at my own pace. If I didn’t understand something, I could go back and read it as many times as I wanted, and I didn’t get left behind.

Because Mackenzie had missed a lot of class time at her local high school, she would have fallen behind had she not transferred to the alternative education program and earned credits through GradPoint. However, GradPoint also served as an accelerated learning solution for her. She was able to graduate from high school one year early.

When Mackenzie entered CORE, she planned to earn a General Diploma. But she set her sights instead on obtaining a Core 40 diploma, an admissions requirement for public four-year colleges in Indiana. She worked extremely hard to meet the more rigorous requirements of the Core 40 curriculum and to complete these credits early, working on her GradPoint courses at home during the day, evening, or weekend. All the while, she worked at McDonald’s for 30 to 35 hours a week.

Having graduated from high school in May 2015, Mackenzie plans to get her General Studies degree at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana and hopes to pursue a career working with animals. She has learned that “you have to work for what you want.” “Just don’t give up” is the advice she would give others facing challenges similar to hers. That’s a lesson she has figured out for herself.

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