GED test overhauled; some states opt for new exams

The Associated Press is reporting “an upgraded GED exam and two new competing equivalency tests offered in several states will usher in the potential for a new era in adult education testing beginning in the New Year.

“The GED (General Educational Development) exam, and probably best-known,  was created in 1942 to help World War II veterans who dropped out of high school use college benefits offered under the GI Bill, and has been owned by the nonprofitAmerican Council on Education since its inception. This is its first face-lift in more than a decade.

“The revamped test is intended to be more rigorous and better aligned with the skills needed for college and today's workplaces, but will only be offered on a computer, and at a higher cost. What consumers pay for the test varies widely and depends on state assistance and other factors --- and the advent of new tests has sent thousands of test takers rushing to complete sections of the old test they had left incomplete. Once the upgrade happens, the old scores of ‘partial passers’ will no longer be accepted.

“Even before its launch, officials in many states have balked at the cost increase and at doing away with paper-and-pencil testing. At least nine states — New York, New Hampshire, Missouri, Iowa, Montana, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine and West Virginia — severed ties with the GED test and adopted one of the two new tests that are entering the market. Three others — Wyoming, New Jersey and Nevada — will offer all three. Tennessee will offer the GED test and one other, and other states are expected to decide what to do in the coming months.”

Ohio apparently is going to be continuing with the GED, as theColumbus Dispatch this morning reported “Ohioans without high-school diplomas will have to pay more this year to take a test for an equivalency certificate -- is expected to cost $120 — triple the cost of last year — with the switch from a paper test to a computerized version -- but can receive vouchers toward that expense if they get career counseling beforehand at certain sites.”

With that the changes to the GED test opened the door for states to begin looking for alternatives, AP reports, with two vendors responding --- Educational Testing Service, a nonprofit that also administers the Graduate Record Examination, and also having developed a high school equivalency exam called the High School Equivalency Test, or HiSET; and CTB/McGraw-Hill, a for-profit company that is helping states develop assessments of Common Core standards, which put an emphasis on critical thinking and spell out what reading and math skills students should have at each level; It developed a high school equivalency test called theTest Assessing Secondary Completion, or TASC.

Both say they offer a quality test at a lower price. They also allow their tests to be taken without a computer and are open to accepting the scores of GED test takers who have partially passed the old test that recently expired, as long as their state approves, although Amy Riker, national executive director for HiSET, acknowledged that both new vendors have a lot of work to do to educate people about the new exams.