GED Switching to Tougher, Computer-Based Tests in January
Jones, Barbara, Pasadena Star-News
Known for decades as a second chance for dropouts, the popular high-school equivalency test known as the GED is about to undergo a historic overhaul to better prepare adult learners for college or the workforce.
Beginning Jan. 2, the company that administers the General Educational Development test will jettison the paper-and-pencil exams and the multiple-choice questions that rely on rote memorization. Instead, adult learners will have to demonstrate computer and critical-thinking skills in a series of online assessments covering literacy, math, science and social studies.
The new exam has been updated and improved four times over the years, but this latest upgrade is being touted by GED executives as the most significant and far-reaching.
"GED Testing Service has built a new comprehensive program - not just a new test - that will ensure that adults have the skills they need to be prepared for jobs and also for essential college and career programs," said company President Randy Trask.
In addition to the change in format, the 2014 test will be aligned with the more rigorous math and English standards taking effect next fall at public schools around the country. Testing officials said they wanted to ensure the GED certificate carries the same value in every state while remaining on par with the diplomas being awarded to today's high school graduates.
The overhauled GED also includes a new scoring system that helps adult learners determine whether they're ready to enroll in college- level courses or pursue training for a higher-level job.
Despite the improvements, its $120 cost will be significantly less for most California test-takers, many of whom had to pay $200 or more, depending on the school district where they took the test.
Districts like Los Angeles Unified, where GED preparation classes are a key component of Adult Education programs, are beefing up their lessons so students will be ready to take the more rigorous equivalency exams.
"We know that the new GED is based on the Common Core, and we have been working on revising our curriculum, including the GED preparation course," said Monica Balbuena, who has been chief examiner at the district's GED testing center for six years. "We are reviewing new preparation material and software that will allow our students training to prepare for a computerized assessment."
Linda Bardere, a spokesman for San Bernardino City Unified, said the district has added a basic computer class to its curriculum so that adult learners will be prepared for the test.
The GED was launched in 1942 by the nonprofit American Council on Education to help returning World War II veterans jump-start their careers. It evolved over the years to become a lifeline for highs- school dropouts, with some 800,000 adult learners nationwide taking the test each year. …