GED testing revamped for current high school rigor
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 23:10
As of Jan. 2, 2014, the tests of General Education Development exam is changing in both format and price. The GED is the only high school equivalency credential recognized by all U.S. states, according to the test website.
Julie Bieber, the education coordinator of the Education and Employment Department at the West End Neighborhood House, a no-cost community center in Wilmington, said she believes the biggest issue for students will be being able to afford the cost of the new test. With new and more complex material covered, it may take individuals longer to prepare for the test, she said.
“We are constantly adapting to new needs of the students and community and educational needs,” Bieber said. “The Delaware Department of Education gives us the support we need.”
The new GED test will include math up to algebra II, as well as physics and an additional five-paragraph essay, and the West End House expects testing fees to rise from $75 to $125 or higher. The GED test is a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has high school-level academic skills. The current subjects tested are social studies, science, reading, writing and mathematics.
Last year at West End, 97 percent of individuals who set the goal of taking the test and receiving GED certification achieved it, Bieber said. The West End Neighborhood offers many programs to individuals, like employment assistance, after-school programs for youths, athletics and recreation and housing and financial management. Bieber said students who have dropped out of school or have been expelled over the age of 16, attend life skills and education programs.
Bieber said each year the numbers of students who attend the West Neighborhood House’s programs are increasing.
“We more than doubled the GEDs received this year than last year,” she said. “The more adults we can help get GEDs, the more they will be able to help their children succeed in the future too.”
Melva Ware, supplemental professional at the Delaware Center for Teacher Education, said young adults who lack competitive literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills are not able to contribute to their own or the community’s economic well being.
Earlier this month, Gov. Jack Markell spoke in an interview at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. on comprehensive education reform in Delaware.
In the New America Foundation’s coverage video of the event, titled “Zero to 18 in Just Four Years,” Lisa Guernsey, director of NAF’s Early Education Initiative, said over the past four years, Delaware has been building a Pre-K through grade 12 education system that includes an early childhood focus with substantial education reforms.
Delaware’s education plan is comprehensive, from Pre-K to 12 to higher education, Mark Holodick, superintendent of the Brandywine School District, said in the interview. Initiatives and programs are being enacted now to improve curriculum and offer more education programs and opportunities as it relates to the Common Core State Standards, he said.
What the state is doing now is accelerating the growth of low-income children within programs that appeal to higher standards, Markell said in the interview.
“We just announced a very exciting partnership a couple weeks ago with the College Board, focusing on high-performing, low-income kids who could absolutely be, based on their PSATs and SATs, be successful in college but a lot of them are not applying,” Markell said in the interview.
Ware said she believes high school students should be encouraged to take courses with as much rigor as possible, take the Accuplacer or other college readiness diagnostic measures by tenth grade and should have support from their parents in addressing learning needs.
“We need to develop cultures that help students and their families understand the relationship between effort and achievement,” Ware said.
Ware said she believes students should have opportunities to develop critical learning mastery skills like time management, note-taking and review, how to study with peers and how to engage in an academic conversation.
“Programs and organizations such as West End serve as places of hope for many students who might not receive adequate encouragement in the traditional school setting,” she said.
Bieber said what students value the most in attending the West End Neighborhood House is getting the opportunity at a “second chance.”
“We provide a place where they can continue their education and have a second chance, or even first, for success and employment,” she said.