Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Individuals considering a General Equivalency Degree may want to put those plans on the front burner, because this time next year, qualifications will change and testing will be redesigned.
When testing centers around the country close for the 2013 Christmas holiday break, the new tests will be implemented in time for classes to resume in January 2014, according to Circle of 10 regional literacy director Peggy Lustig, whose organization helped procure hefty grants through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for programs in Rusk and Bullard, among others.
“What we understand is that as the requirements for high school diplomas increase – more math, more science, whatever they call for – for the general equivalency diploma (GED) to actually be an 'equivalent,' the standards and requirements of that test increases also,” she said.
The KET Adult Learning website has created a PDF chart outlining general differences between the new test and the one currently in use since 2002.
For example, cost currently varies by state, though Lustig said a student can take a full battery for about $80 at any of the local junior colleges, but in 2014, a single test will cost $30 per area, or $120 for the full battery.
Most noticeable, however, is how the test will be presented.
Until December 2013, students will use pencil and paper to provide answers to multiple-choice, essay and grid format questions, but under the new computer-based test, they'll focus on hot spot, drag-and-drop, short answer, extended response, fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions.
“For the younger students, it's not going to bother them, but when you've got someone (older), who is computer illiterate? That's going to be a big issue,” Lustig said.
Classes are taught at different sites in Cherokee County, sponsored by different organizations; Lustig's outfit works with five partner agencies in East Texas, including the Bullard Public Library and Singletary Memorial Library in Rusk.
Despite which program a student participates in, change will be widespread.
“And teachers will have to teach differently,” she said. “At the end of 2013 – and I hate to say this – if you have a brand-new student come in who hasn't passed any sections, you're going to have to teach the test.”
If getting a GED is someone's personal goal, that person “needs to get into a program – any program they can find – and get busy,” Lustig said. “If you pass so many sections, but don't work on (completing the rest), you'll lose your scores.”
It's something she's seen happen before, when she was a GED instructor in 2000.
“When the testing centers closed in December of 2001, and reopened the following month, I had students who had passed multiple sections of their GED tests – math, science, history, English and language arts, social studies – I think two of my ladies had passed everything but the math, but when the testing center closed, their scores had wiped out,” she recalled.
“You cannot carry over (a passed subject) to a new format. That's why it's urgent that individuals in all of the country, not just Cherokee County, know what's going on so if they've (only) passed three sections, they need to get busy. We don't want people to lose their scores. You're going to have to start over (otherwise).”
She also reminded individuals that only a state or national testing center – like those established at area junior colleges – can provide testing needed for a GED to be issued.
“In pulling up information on my computer, I've found a lot of scams out there, from sites who say they can give someone their GED,” Lustig said. “We want people to be careful. If someone is interested in getting their GED, they need to contact the local library in any town, or a junior college, because they'll be able to give you the right information.”