Citing Costs, States are Looking at GED Alternative

Schools around the country are scrambling to find an alternative to the commonly administered General Education Diploma high school equivalency test because they're worried that they don't have the infrastructure to administer the new version that will rely heavily on technology rather than pen and paper. The states have the final say on which tests are used to determine high school equivalency, and most have been relying on the General Education Development Exam since it was first designed right after WWII.

This status quo, however, no longer suits at least 40 states, who have worked together and separately to find a GED alternative. There's no word yet on whether the states are interested in designing their own test, but at least two companies are aggressively shopping their own versions.

That poor parents will pay for something the state provides free speaks volumes. India's state schools pay their teachers far more than private ones, yet they are often worse. Surveys suggest that a quarter or more of government teachers are absent at any given time. Unions prevent the authorities from disciplining slackers or rewarding good teachers.

California, a state that's locked into the use of the GED by its legislature, has begun to look at ways to loosen that requirement. Meanwhile New York, Montana, and New Hampshire have announced that they are ditching the GED entirely in favor of different equivalency tests.

Missouri, Maine, Indiana and Iowa aren't as far along, but all have requested bid from test designers to determine if a new equivalency exam would be a positive change.

The pushback comes as GED Testing Service prepares to introduce a new version of the exam in January. In the first revamp since for-profit Pearson Vue Testing acquired a joint ownership interest in the nonprofit Washington-based GED Testing Service, the cost of the test is doubling to $120. That's led to a case of sticker shock for test takers, nonprofits and states. Some states subsidize some or all of the expense of the exam, while others add an administrative fee. The new GED test would cost $140 to take in Missouri if the state sticks with it.

According to test designers, the time is right for a change especially with imminent adoption of the Common Core Standards. Once the new standards are in place, states could find themselves giving an equivalency exam that doesn't actually cover the material at the same level that a typical school does.

04 16, 2013
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