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This Austin Charter School Proves High School Diplomas Aren’t Just for Kids Anymore

Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
Seventy-five adults from 17 to 50 have earned HS diplomas from a program at an Austin charter school (not pictured here).

Three years ago, state lawmakers approved a pilot program in Austin that allows adults up to 50 years old to go back to school to earn their high school diplomas. And over the last 18 months, the Excel Charter School has graduated 75 former high school drop-outs.

While Texas law allows students up to 25 years old to enroll in high school, once a person turns 26, their options are limited to getting a GED.

But the new Excel Charter School, located in Austin and run by Goodwill, will accept students from 17 up to 50 years old. In addition to the opportunity to earn a diploma, the charter school also helps them plan for a career, through a Career and Technical Academy.  Matt Williams, the Vice President of Education at the Excel Charter School, said 70 percent of their students have graduated with a certificate and continued on to Austin Community College.

“They are bettering themselves and increasing their wage, and they are becoming, not absorbers of state aid, but rather contributing to the state through tax dollars. We are really excited about that.”

Unlike GED prep courses, which are mostly online, the Goodwill Excel Center holds in-person classes. Students who attended some high school are able to start out at Excel with their original transcripts – so they don’t have to repeat courses they took years ago. 

“If you got a geometry credit in 1992, you still have that credit. So some of our students are there for 16 weeks, some are there for two years.”

Williams said Goodwill, which is involved with the school’s operations, will offer positions for Excel graduates to help build their resumes as they transition into the workforce.

There’s currently a waitlist with more than 200 potential students. 

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