Can Taking The GED Test Guarantee Employment?

After dropping out of high school, around 750,000 young people a year decide to take the General Educational Development test (GED) in an attempt to boost their employment prospects.

But is the GED treated like the equivalent of a high school diploma as it is aimed to be? New research says no, showing that people with GEDs are, in fact, no better off than dropouts when it comes to their chances of getting a good job, writes Claudio Sanchez at NPR.

Los Angeles Schools Superintendent John Deasy agrees:

“The GED is a credential. Is it adequate for gainful employment and a living wage in the United States of America today? I do not think so.”

This is worrying as many school districts with high dropout rates see GED enrollment as the next best thing for their students.

Ed Morris, chief of adult and career education at the Los Angeles School District, says:

“If I were prepared today with a GED, and that’s what I had as an 18-year-old, I’d be scared to death of the future.”

But what is it about the GED that puts prospective employers off? Russell Rumberger, author of the book Dropping Out, explains:

“If you look at employer surveys, the things that employers generally most look for or think are important, especially at lower-end jobs, are the things like perseverance and tenacity, and those kinds of qualities that are not measured by the GED.

“The GED is better than no credential for a dropout but it’s not as good as a diploma. It doesn’t replace a diploma, in terms of labor market outcomes.”

Nicole Chestang, vice president of the GED Testing Service, the organization that administers the test, said:

“That is why we are making the changes that we are making to the GED testing program.”

Chestang says that the GED won’t be scrapped like critics are calling for. In the next two years, the GED evolve into two new tests — one that’s aligned with more rigorous high school standards, the other more attuned to career and college readiness, she said.

Chestang says:

“We are developing a GED test in the future which will point toward more information for employers and colleges and individuals about the basic skills that they have and at what level have they mastered them.”

02 22, 2012
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