Local News

Changes to G.E.D. coming Jan. 1

AVON PARK - Zachary Blatt said he just passed his General Education Development test last week and his advice to those pursuing their G.E.D. diploma is to “take it while you can.” So says Terri Lipke, editorial director for ProLiteracy, a nonprofit group that deals with adult education issues. A new G.E.D. assessment is scheduled to be released in January and those who are in the process of studying for the test or have passed some but not all five content areas are strongly encouraged to test before their scores expire at the end of this year. Students are now able to transfer partial passing scores if they take the test again, but only until December 2013.
“The changes are so extensive, it’s almost like starting all over again,” Lipke added. “I’d hate for anyone to be half way through the process and then lose all that work.” For one, the test will be administered entirely on the computer, and the cost to take the test in Florida will go up from the $70 for the paper-and-pencil test to $120. Then, the test itself will be different – requiring more comprehensive reading skills and a “little bit more algebra,” Lipke said. “Those G.E.D students who have recently been in high school are used to using the computer and won’t mind a seven-hour test on a computer,” Lipke added. “But older students will need basic computer and keyboarding skills, in addition to the content.” Because of that, many adult education centers are reporting seeing an increase in the number of test-takers who want to beat the 2013 deadline. South Florida State College, which is a GED testing center for Highlands County, has not seen the rush of students but the college is also one of a few pilot sites offering this computer-based test, said the Director of Adult Education Sylvia Turner. Turner is finding out that test-takers who are young are comfortable with the computer testing. “They are wanting to take the computer-based test because that’s the world they live in,” she said. Since the electronic test scores are calculated faster, it also helps those who are looking for jobs or need the scores to keep their jobs, Turner said. “It depends on each person’s individual needs,” she added. The current G.E.D. test, which is called the 2012 Series, covers language arts, writing, math, science and social studies. A score of 410 is required to pass each of those subjects, and a total score of 2,250 is needed to pass the overall test. While the G.E.D. Testing Service is still working on the new score ranges, the five subject areas have been consolidated into four - literacy, mathematics, science and social studies. “One of the most significant changes from the 2002 to the 2014 series is the introduction of typed critical responses,” ProLiteracy states. That means the separate writing section of the 2002 language arts test, which included one 45-minute essay, will be eliminated. “Instead, test-takers will complete four typed responses throughout the test — two short answers and two extended responses.” The new assessment will also measure career- and college-readiness skills as part of a second score report, in addition to the passing score needed to get a diploma. The second score report will outline what skills the students are good at, Lipke said. This will allow them to know if they are ready to pursue a career or higher education. Meanwhile, the G.E.D. Testing Center is offering what it calls a “second shot promotion” for test-takers to earn one voucher for a free retake if they don't pass a test taken on a computer on their first try. This promotion applies to test subjects taken between Feb. 6 to May 31 and will go toward the first subject test they take. No voucher will be offered for test-takers who pass each subject but fail to reach the overall 2250 score. While Heather Terry feels the changes mean that fewer people will complete the test, the Florida Department of Education’s web site states that adults who take the computer-based tests “are scoring higher and finishing faster.” “In fact, 88 percent of people passed the GED test on computer compared to 71 percent for those who tested on paper,” it states.