Beginning January 1, 2014, the General Education Development exam or GED is being overhauled and the changes have some educators concerned about the possible consequences of such dramatic changes. The new GED and two alternate tests will cause ripple effects in the lives of thousands according to a Jan. 1 report on NBC US News.
The GED was first created in 1942 as a way of assisting returning World War II veterans who wanted to use their GI Bill benefits to attend college. It has been more than ten years since the test has been revised.
The changes include switching from a pencil and paper-based to test to a computer only test. The upside to this is that in the past, students had to wait weeks or even months to get results. With the new computerized tests, results will be immediate.
The drawbacks to the new test are significant, however. In order to better prepare students for college-level classes and the demands of the current workplace, the tests will be more rigorous. They will also cost more. Depending on state supplements, the tests could cost as much as three times their previous cost. Both the harder content and higher costs could discourage test takers from participating.
Another issue that has adult educators concerned is the way in which the tests are given. Currently, the GED is broken into five sections. Test takers can pass parts of the test and then come to take or retake the parts they have not yet passed. With the new GED, it is an all or nothing proposition. Those who have passed parts of the test but did not complete it before the end of 2013 will have to start over. This, too, will discourage some test takers from completing their GED.
Lennox McLendon, executive director of the National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium described this period in adult education as one of being full of angst.
The high school equivalency test was taken by more than 700,000 in 2012and the average test taker was 26. Many of those seeking the GED are poor. Statistics put the number of Americans without a high education at about 40 million. The new testing requirements and cost could see that number rise.
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