States Drop GED: 40 States Look For Alternative As Test Price Set To Double, Go Digital In 2014

 @ZoeMintzz.mintz@ibtimes.com
on April 15 2013 10:02 AM

Forty states are investigating an alternative to the GED.

The lack of loyalty toward the 71-year-old high school equivalency test lies in new changes the exam will have in January, when the price will double and only be offered on a computer compared to the traditional paper-based exam, AP reports.

"A lot of them are just barely making it,” Kirk Proctor, of the Missouri Career Center, said about how his students will struggle to pay for the pricey test. "Transportation is a challenge. Eating is a challenge. For them, coming up with $140 for an assessment, it's basically telling them, 'Forget about ever getting this part of your life complete.'"

In most states, the new price of the test is $120 -- and it will remain that way until 2015, the GED Testing Service, which administers the test, said in a statement. Some states will subsidize the cost, while others might add administrative fees.

The changes in cost and format come after the nonprofit GED Testing Service partnered with Pearson Vue Testing, the world’s largest education and testing company, to revamp the test and make it for-profit for the first time, the Washington Post reports.

The GED Testing Service, which has been administering the computerized version of the test since 2012, says adults are scoring higher and finishing faster. The failure rate of students that take the test on the computer is half of those who use pencil and paper.

But the high cost drove several states away early. In March, New York became the first state to drop the GED. Its state education department plans to team up with CTB/McGraw-Hill to develop a new New York state high school equivalency exam.

"While the GED was run by a not-for-profit, the system worked fairly well. But a Pearson GED monopoly would put our students at the mercy of Pearson’s pricing," New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in a statement. "We can’t let price deny anyone the opportunity for success.” 

Montana and New Hampshire have also parted ways with the GED, and California might start accepting other high school equivalency tests besides the GED.

The Educational Testing Service has developed one of the national alternatives to the GED named HiSET. Registration opens on Nov. 1 with testing beginning Jan., 2, 2014; the test is set to rival the GED in terms of accessibility and affordability. The price for both paper- and computer-based versions of the HiSET test will be $50. Students can take up to two retests per year for no additional cost.

The GED was first administered in 1942 to help returning war veterans complete their high school studies. Five years later, the test was made available to civilians. Today, anyone who is at least 16 and is not enrolled or graduated from high school can take the exam.

It is the most widely used testing alternative to a high school education, with online high schools and alternative diploma programs being the other known options available for those who haven’t completed secondary education.

"It's been the only thing in town for high school equivalency testing,” Amy Riker, ETS director of high school equivalency testing, said about the GED’s market dominance. “It's kind of like Kleenex at this point."

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