CLEP-A-Thons: Completing degrees one test at a time at forward operating bases

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Gabrielle Winn
  • 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron

Nigerien Air Base 201, Agadez, Niger, hosted a 10- day College Level Examination Program, or CLEP-A-Thon event, Nov. 3, 2020.

The event was administered by a mobile test team with the Central Texas College Mobile Test Center which is sponsored by the Defense Human Resource Activity and Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support for the United States Africa Command and the United States Central Command Education Services Contract.

Tech. Sgt. Evan Koebel, 724th and 726th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron base training manager, coordinated the 10-day event with the help of Steve Meyers, Central Texas College Remote Mobile test examiner, and Mark Phelan, education program manager for AFRICOM/CENTCOM education contract.

“Due to our location we do not have an education center and only a nationally certified test center can administer CLEP and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests,” said Koebel. “Many bases don’t keep the certification due to the cost so usually a local college near the base would be the place to take these [tests].”

Without the mobile test team, deployed members would not be able to take CLEP or DSST tests. The MTT is self-sufficient, has its own assigned remote mobile testing codes and is manned by a qualified academic counselor.

“It is very beneficial to see the service men and women, especially on the frontline, are given the opportunity to take these tests, be successful, and hopefully prepare for the next test,” said Phelan.

During the event, the team was able to provide testing services for 10 days with scheduled testing for the first five days, and walk-in testing the following five days.

“I turned the Learning Resource Center tent into our testing lab with fold out tables and chairs and some already made desks,” said Koebel. “The communications squadron ran a dedicated morale net line to power the network switch provided by the MTC.”

Service members were given 45 days notice of the MTCs arrival to AB 201 to give time to study and sign-up for classes. For added test-preparation, Capt. Stephen Summers, 724th EABS engineering and installation engineering officer in charge, conducted math classes twice a week for an hour where members could come and go as they pleased.

“If I at least helped one person pass the test, then it was successful,” said Summers. “The nature of the CLEP program is kind of an “all or nothing” concept.”

The CLEP-A-Thon helped some Airmen finish their Community College of the Air Force degree and helped others get further to reaching their educational goals.

“Thanks to this event, I was able to pass seven CLEP and DANTES exams earning 24 credit hours,” said Senior Airman Taylor Shultz, 724th EABS Firefighter. “I will leave with my CCAF, combined with my current college courses, and will begin my Bachelors of Emergency Management degree.”

Within the10-day time frame, a total of 140 tests were taken with a solid 50 percent pass rate for CLEP and DSST combined. Altogether, a total of 240 credits were earned for CLEP for DSST testing and $58,500 in tuition assistance was saved.

In December 2019, DANTES completed an initial mobile testing pilot at Camp Simba, Kenya, where a team of DANTES and contractor personnel successfully accomplished the mobile testing proof-of-concept.

“The team tested the capability of technology, logistics, and support personnel to safely reach and support on-site testing at forward operating locations,” said Beci Hilgeman, National Test Center manager and MTT coordinator. “This second MTT pilot at AB 201 further demonstrated the proof-of-concept capability with a permanent testing facility and education center on base.”