Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

November 7, 2013

GED test-takers rushing to meet Dec. 31 deadline

WASHINGTON — Americans who passed part, but not all, of the GED test are rushing to finish the high school equivalency exam before a new version rolls out in January and their previous scores are wiped out. About 1 million people could be affected.

With the new version, test takers must use a computer instead of paper and pencil. The test itself will be more rigorous and cost more — at $120, the price in some states will be significantly higher than previous versions. Some places may subsidize all or part of the cost.

“This is the thing that’s sort of putting the spur in the saddle,” said Lecester Johnson, executive director of Academy of Hope, an adult charter school in Washington. “People just don’t want to start over.”

Test takers have been warned for more than a year about the approaching Dec. 31 deadline to complete the test. States and localities are phoning people, and thousands of letters have gone out — including to 32,000 Californians who passed parts but not all the test in the last two years.

“We don’t want anyone to be caught off-guard and come in and test in January or February thinking they have their old scores, and they have to start over,” said Pam Blundell, who oversees adult education for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. She said Oklahoma test sites have added additional test days and referred students to other sites.

Nicole Chestang, executive vice president at GED Testing Service, said the rush was expected. In 2001, the year before the last upgrade, there was a 30 percent increase in test takers, most toward the end of the year, she said.

She advised people to register for the exam now, even if they don’t take it until later in November or December.

Some critics have challenged the price increases and the mandate that test takers use a computer — issues that affect many people living in poverty.

This is the first upgrade since for-profit Pearson Vue Testing acquired a joint ownership interest in the GED Testing Service. For 70 years, GED Testing Service has been run by the nonprofit American Council on Education.

GED exam officials have said the changes will modernize the test and align it with new college and career-ready standards adopted in a majority of states. They say basic computer skills are needed in a modern workplace — even to apply for jobs at places like retail stores and fast-food chains. On a recent test given to adults worldwide of workplace skills including math, reading and problem-solving using technology, American adults scored below the international average.

The test also will allow people to receive their scores the same day, rather than having to wait a month or more.

Frustrated with the changes, some states have opted instead to begin using other high school equivalency exams. One is Wyoming, which has adopted the additional use of two other tests.

Jim Rose, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, said officials are exploring whether students who have passed sections of the GED can apply that toward passing one of the other high school equivalency exams.

“Our centers are really committed to trying to make this something that is workable for students instead of a kind of high-stakes, winner-take-all game in which if you don’t complete by December, then you’ve got to begin again, and that’s going to create a hardship for students,” Rose said.

In Washington, D.C., Antoinette Mitchell, a deputy assistant superintendent of education, says she feels some urgency. “We are trying in numerous ways to get the word out to get them to come back,” she said.

In a low-income neighborhood on the new campus of the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington, Principal Jorge Delgado said that instead of a last-minute rush, enrollment is declining as word spreads that the GED exam will soon be offered only by computer. The school, which has students from more than 20 countries speaking 40-plus languages, has added new computer literacy classes. Still, he said, many English language learners are intimidated by computers.

Delgado said many of the school’s students work in the hotel and restaurant industries and that passing the GED test will allow them to get a promotion to a supervisory position or enter a training program. Some are taking care of families and barely sleeping as they juggle responsibilities. He said he doesn’t understand why the GED exam isn’t more flexible about allowing English language learners to take the test using a pencil and paper.

“Why put more blocks in front of them? Why more obstacles when they are doing their best?” Delgado said. “What I’m seeing is students giving up already.”

One student at the school who isn’t giving up is Natnael Gebremariam, 32, from Eritrea in East Africa. He goes to class in the mornings, works about 50 hours a week in the afternoons and evenings at a fast-food restaurant, then spends some nights doing homework past midnight.  The former teacher in his home country wants to work in information technology in the U.S. He said the pressure he feels isn’t so much about the test changing, but wanting to pass the GED exam so he can take college classes.

“All I know is I have to be ready by the end of this year,” said Gebremariam, in an interview in between classes.

———

Online: http://www.finishtheged.com

———

Follow Kimberly Hefling at http://www.twitter.com/khefling

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commission to vote to purchase new computers

    Lowndes County commissioners discussed replacing outdated computers, a bid for an emergency bypass pump, an annexation request from the City of Hahira, a juvenile justice grant application, and an appointment to the dangerous dog board.

    April 22, 2014

  • KLVB receives Governor’s Circle Recognition Award

    Keep Lowndes/Valdosta Beautiful received the Governor’s Circle Award. These inaugural, statewide awards were presented by Gov. Nathan Deal at the State Capitol .

    April 22, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum reviews ‘The Art Forger’

     “Fascinating” is the word to describe the world of art forgery as revealed by guest reviewer Laura Hughes to Readers’ Forum.

    April 22, 2014

  • Immigration _Rich copy.jpg DHS secretary re-evaluating deportation priorities

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday he’s re-evaluating the Obama administration’s deportation priorities to make certain they’re focused on national security, public safety and border security, amid growing pressure from the Latino community and President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats. 

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rethinking Pot 420_Rich copy.jpg Public smoke-out marks pot holiday in Colorado

    Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Submarine Sleep Sched_Rich copy.jpg Navy OKs changes for submariners’ sleep schedules

    With no sunlight to set day apart from night on a submarine, the U.S. Navy for decades has staggered sailors’ working hours on schedules with little resemblance to life above the ocean’s surface.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Grim work for families as more bodies discovered

    There are no names listed as relatives huddle around signboards to identify bodies from a sunken ferry. Just the slimmest of clues about mostly young lives now lost. Many favored hoodies and track pants. One girl painted her fingernails red and toenails black. Another had braces on her teeth.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results