A new GED test was launched two years ago to re-certify the test as a testament of learning, but since then complaints have rolled in over the nature of the exam and the company that administers it.
Students and instructors have objected to the test being a for-profit enterprise and have also complained that the price is higher than it was, along with the fact that it is only administered on a computer, reports NPR’s Anya Kamenetz.
But the primary reason for contention is that the test is more difficult, so much so that pass rates have dropped sharply. The testing service has acknowledged the last complaint. The company is a partnership made up of the American Council on Education (ACE) and Pearson, the largest education company worldwide.
This week the service announced that minimum passing scores would be lowered by five points from 150 to 145. Now individual states are reviewing the new grading system.
“Our recommendation is for each state to strongly consider making these changes retroactive,” says CT Turner, a spokesman for the GED Testing Service. “We’ve gotten hard data back from a number of states showing that GED grads are not just performing on par, but better than high school graduates when it comes to college,” Turner says.
The change to a passing grade of 145 puts GED recipients more in line with the average high school graduate. Along with the lowered passing score, the GED will add structured pass rates for the first time. A student will be certified as ready for college-level work with no remediation with a score of 165-174.
More than a 175 score, earned by only 1 in 10 participants, could make a student eligible for as much as 10 hours of college credit by way of ACE’s Credit Recommendation Service.
Turner added that the change will help the GED Testing Service win back lost market share. Once a monopoly, 21 states now have cheaper, non-profit options with the TASC and HiSET.
After the GED developed a more stringent exam to align with new standards like Common Core, fewer people took the test and fewer passed. Sixty percent of test takers passed the old GED in Georgia, but 54% passed the more difficult test in 2014, according to Janel Davis of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Turner explained that the passing score changes were created to ensure that GED students did not have to hurdle a higher standard than the typical high school graduate. He added that adjustment of the passing score was not an effort to compete with other testing companies, reports Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer.
“We have to remember that higher education has a role in this as well,” said Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. “They have the right to say yes or no we will accept or we won’t accept.”
KDLT-TV News South Dakota reports that 545 S.D. students earned a diploma using the GED since January of 2014. To that number, roughly an additional 78 will be awarded a diploma retroactively.