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New GED tests stir concerns, draw competitors

Jun 15, 2013 by

By Caralee Adams

For many dropouts, especially those who are too old to return to the public K-12 system, the GED assessment has long been the main route to the high school credential that eluded them.

But, come January, getting a General Educational Development credential won’t be the same.

Gone will be the paper-and-pencil tests. Students instead will take the exams on a computer and know the same day if they passed. Content will be more rigorous to align with new common academic standards for most high schools, and test-takers will receive a separate college- and career-readiness score.

Along with the big changes, comes a bigger price tag: $120. That’s about double what it was before the American Council on Education partnered with the for-profit publisherPearson to form the new GED Testing Service.

Just how much students pay—and whether they can take the GED tests at all—will depend on where they live.

Concerns over cost and access to the revised exams have promptedCTB/McGraw-Hill and the Educational Testing Service to enter the market at the same time with their own high school equivalency tests, leading some states to drop the GED exams altogether or offer students a choice. Other states are expanding alternative paths to getting a diploma with competency-based programs.

All those changes exacerbate students’ confusion over a patchwork of policies and options for students without a high school diploma. The situation varies across the country because adult education services, which also cover teenage dropouts young enough to be in school, are operated and financed differently in each state.

States set their own fees for testing. Some subsidize the cost of the tests, while others charge an administrative fee or have students foot the bill. The testing situation will likely become more fluid as administrators sort through the details and consider how to prepare students for the change.

One outcome is sure: The uncertainty is expected to translate into a surge of GED test-taking this year, before the landscape changes significantly in 2014.

Why New Assessments?

“It was definitely time for [the GED assessment] to be revamped. It would lose its relevance and authority if it wasn’t,” says Barry E. Shaffer, an adult education consultant and a retired director of adult education in Faribault, Minn.

via New GED tests stir concerns, draw competitors | Hechinger Report.

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