People across the country are struggling to pass the new version of the GED released this year, finding it to be harder than previous versions — and states are struggling to explain the massive drop in passing scores.
The test is supposed to be one of the easiest examinations a person can take in the US. However, according to the most recent data from the GED Testing Service, there was a drop this year of almost 90% in the number of people who earned a GED across the country this year. In 2012, 401,388 people passed, and 540,000 passed in 2013. Only about 55,000 passed this year.
In Rhode Island, only 225 students passed the exam this year compared to the 2,363 students who passed it last year, according to Linda Borg for The Providence Journal.
“The completion rate is down because it’s a new test this year with no carry-overs from previous years,” said Elliot Krieger, spokesman for state education commissioner Deborah A. Gist. “Anyone who didn’t complete the test by Dec. 31, 2013 had to start from scratch.”
Georgia saw a 51% passing rate with just 2,270 people out of 5,340 passing the test this year. The state has historically seen about 18,000 pass the exam per year.
The test was brought “up to date” and “relevant” this year in order to comply with the new Common Core standards used in most high schools nationwide. Test takers are now required to take the exam digitally and write more essays than ever before. The exam is now composed of five parts divided by subject area and involves more problem solving questions rather than multiple choice.
The new test requires more knowledge of subjects tested than prior versions, in addition to more algebra and geometry. In order to finish the exam on time, test takers must show some proficiency with a computer mouse and with typing skills, reports Ty Beaver for The Tri-City Herald.
With fewer people taking the exam this year, it seems that many are afraid of the new format, especially low-income people who may not have access to computers or the Internet.
The drastic drop in the number of people who pass the GED is considered a nationwide problem, as the test makes up 12% of all high school diplomas handed out each year.
GED test teachers feel that the intentions behind the exam have changed, from previously seeing if the test-taker is ready to find employment or move into a better job position, to a new category of checking the college preparedness of the test-takers.