The iconic GED (General Education Development Test) has offered Americans who dropped out of the educational system opportunities to earn a high-school diplomas.
Now, some states are considering changes to this exam. Lisa Fleisher of the Wall Street Journal reports the details:
But that could soon change: Dozens of states are considering whether to jettison the GED, which is now going through the biggest overhaul in its 70-year history, and many are already hunting for alternatives among a growing list of new competitors.
The change may not be simple. Like Band-Aid and Velcro, GED is a brand name often confused as a generic. As states consider their options, a question is emerging: Will colleges and employers recognize an equivalency diploma that isn’t called the GED?
“This is a huge transition,” said Marque Haeg, Oregon’s GED administrator. “For most jobs here in Oregon, you have to have a GED, and that includes everything from McDonald’s to little mom-and-pop shops.”
The shift comes two years after GED’s founder, the nonprofit American Council on Education, teamed up with publishing giant Pearson PSON.LN -0.49% PLC to remake the exam to reflect new academic standards being adopted across the nation. The new company, the for-profit GED Testing Service, will offer a totally computerized battery of four tests that will cost $120 per student.
The higher cost will be incurred by students and states, many of which subsidize students’ GED fees, according to education officials. Some also expressed concern that not all students will have the necessary skills to take the exam on computer, and the new GED test won’t be offered on paper.
Randy Trask, president of GED Testing Service, said the new test would be worth the price, with additional features such as a detailed analysis of students’ answers and security measures to prevent cheating. He also defended administering the test on computers alone. “Computers are a necessary part of society today,” Mr. Trask said. “If you’re going to apply at a Walgreens or a Wal-Mart WMT +0.20% or a Target, you’re going to be filling out an application on a computer.”
The transition has created the first significant opening in the market since the GED was created in 1942, when soldiers returning from World War II needed to get a jump-start on their careers. Over the years, states have offered students various options to earn a diploma, but none has been as common and as recognizable as the GED, formerly known as the General Educational Development exam.