A Success Story in Ohio

Over four years of experimenting with distance education for GED students, Ohio tripled enrollments, increased achievement, and by 2006 reduced the cost of delivery from $738 to $293 per ABE/GED student.

What Accounts for Ohio’s Success? 

Leadership that provided a vision, supported experimentation and demonstrated commitment to a continual improvement process led to a sustained, successful distance education program serving ABE, GED, and ESOL learners.


Ohio began with a carefully designed, small-scale experiment and a dedicated group of 14 teachers. Most of the teachers stayed with the distance learning project for four years, providing an experienced teacher base skilled in delivering instruction at a distance.  The state provided ongoing professional development for them as an integral part of the program.

Continuous Evaluation Is Key

Another ingredient was continual evaluation with the goal of program improvement. Ohio collects data on distance students on an ongoing basis and studies it to measure program progress. At the end of each pilot year, the state held a meeting where the pilot programs come together to evaluate their experiments and make adjustments for the following year.

Lessons Learned

At the end of their first year, the pilot programs concluded that a single distance curriculum was not sufficient to meet the needs of all learners, so they added two more curricula. At the end of the third year, they saw the need to expand the reach of their distance program. They developed a new “hub” delivery system that eliminated the need for every agency to hire and train new distance teachers. This process of testing and evaluating ideas and then implementing appropriate changes has led to a solid, distance education program. The success of these efforts convinced Ohio to begin a parallel effort to deliver ESOL at a distance. The chart below highlights the changes Ohio made in each year of its pilot program.

Experimentation, Evaluation, & Change


Action Steps

Year 1 Teachers need more professional development

Added PD: Teachers participate in DL102—an online study group examining good teaching practices
Reviewed existing GED curriculum

Year 2 One curriculum is insufficient to serve all ABE distance learners; need to add curricula

Added 2nd GED & pre-GED curricula

Continued PD: Teachers participate in DL103—an online study group on Web-based learning resources

Year 3 Distance program is ready to expand

Implemented a hub-based delivery model to increase reach of DL programs

Year 4 Ready to offer distance to a broader audience

Added ESOL distance component