An Alternative Route
Thanks to Launch’s credit recovery courses and the Missouri Option Program, Central High School student Ian Irven was able to earn his high school diploma after missing an entire year of classes.
Ian Irven never minded attending school when he was younger. Naturally and as all students do, he enjoyed some courses more than others, but he always tried his best and worked his way through all required subjects. As he grew older and his classes became more challenging, though, his grades began to reflect a struggle. Then eleventh grade came, and things completely changed.
“I was doing pretty well until junior year,” Irven says. “Then I started losing motivation on myself and thinking I couldn’t do it anymore.” Once he began losing the will to attend school, things continued to get worse. “I just completely gave up,” Irven says. “Band and earth science were the only two things that I actually cared about. English and math—all the other stuff—those were the things that I gave up on.” First Irven missed one day of school. Then two. Then three. Day after day after day, he never went back.
After Irven missed an entire year of classes at Springfield’s Central High School, they thought he was gone for good. He decided otherwise, though, and he wanted to give earning his diploma another shot. Unfortunately, he had an additional situation to deal with at this point—his mom had to have hip replacement surgery. “It was going to be a really big struggle to figure out school and how to help out so much at home at the same time,” says Irven, who was acting as the primary caretaker for his mother. The team at Central High School presented Irven with two choices: he could go back and complete a final year of seated courses, or he could take an alternative path and attempt to earn his diploma with the help of Launch’s online courses and the Missouri Option Program.
According to the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE), the Missouri Option Program permits full-time, public school enrolled students who are at least 17 years of age and at risk of dropping out or not graduating with their cohort group the opportunity to earn a standard high school diploma. The program utilizes a high school equivalency exam, the HiSET exam, to determine content mastery. The HiSET exam includes tests in five areas: reading, writing, math, science and social studies, and they must pass all of these tests to earn their diploma. Irven chose the second option, and in late August 2018, he began preparing for the HiSET.
Mr. Darrin Ankrom, who acts as a Missouri Options and Credit Recovery teacher at Springfield’s Central High School, quickly connected with Irven. “The question was never whether or not Ian was capable, but what was it that motivated him?,” Mr. Ankrom says. “His passion was in band, and he put so much time and attention into it that his grades in his other classes slipped. Knowing how intelligent Ian was, I knew that Missouri Options would be the perfect fit.”
Because Irven had previously failed his Government and Personal Finance classes, he first worked to make these credits up with Launch’s credit recovery courses online. Next he and Mr. Ankrom got busy studying for the five HiSET tests. “We were on a very strict timeline,” Mr. Ankrom says. “We had about two weeks before his mom had surgery, and we wanted to get it done before then. I think we reviewed for a week, then the next week he signed up for the tests and took them day after day.”
Irven passed each of his tests on his first try, but this didn’t come without a bit of anxiety. “I was very nervous,” Irven says. “I was very worried that I wasn’t going to succeed. But I just knew that my mom was hoping I would pass, and she gave me encouragement to pass. I think that really helped.”
Irven knows there are students across Missouri in similar situations, and he offers a piece of advice to each of them. “I would tell them not to stress themselves out by telling themselves they can’t do it or they won’t succeed,” Irven says. “Then they will just set themselves up for failure. If you give up on yourself, you’re never going to succeed—you’re always going to fail. You have to continue to believe in yourself and believe you can do it.”