GED test takers decline with changes

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  • Ed Week

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — In a state where 14 percent of adults haven't graduated high school, the GED test is a lifeline for many Mississippians hoping to improve their job skills and better their lives.

But changes made to the GED test in 2014 have led to nine times fewer Mississippians passing the test. The test is now more rigorous, expensive and solely computer-based.

In Mississippi, the General Educational Development exam, developed by the Washington, D.C.-based GED Testing Service as a high school equivalency exam, is the only alternative option to a high school diploma. The Mississippi Community College Board uses the federal funding it receives to pay 28 programs to provide test preparation for potential test takers.

The test was revised to align with Common Core standards, which require a higher level of critical thinking. The cost for the test also increased from $75 to $120, and the paper-based option was eliminated.

The GED Testing Service changed the test after research showed that GED graduates from the old test had the same earnings as high school dropouts, not high school graduates, said C.T. Turner, a spokesperson for the company.

Turner said the hope is that the more rigorous test leads more GED graduates to obtain a post-secondary credential such as a certificate or community college degree, which fewer than 12 percent of the old test takers were obtaining.

He also mentioned that federal funding for states' adult education programs, which prepare people to take the GED, will soon be determined based on outcomes of test takers a year after passing a high school equivalency test. Before, funding was appropriated based on the number of people who passed the tests.

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