Finish the GED tests now–or else!

Big changes to the GED® Test in 2014

GED logoOn March 15, 2011, The American Council on Education (ACE) and Pearson announced the creation of a ground-breaking new business that will drive the future direction, design, and delivery of the GED® testing program based on their vision for the GED in the 21st century. Their press release explained that the three primary components of this initiative will include:

1. A new, more rigorous GED Test aligned with Common Core State Standards designed to ensure career- and college-readiness;

2. A national test preparation program featuring an expanding array of innovative and personalized learning resources; and,

3. A transition network that connects GED test-takers to career and postsecondary educational opportunities.

The need for higher standards is clear. With a labor market that increasingly seeks some postsecondary training, paired with dispiriting rates of high school and college completion, the future of our economy depends on creating a highly skilled, creative, and competitive workforce. This includes more intensive educational opportunities for the 40 million adults in the U.S. without a high school diploma.

Policy makers and the GED Testing Service are working to reposition the GED as a step in a journey toward postsecondary training, rather than as an end in itself. Epitomizing that shift in thinking, the new exam, due out in 2014, will have two passing points: the traditional one indicating high school equivalency, and an additional, higher one signaling college and career readiness.

“The message is that you’re not here just to get a high school equivalency and walk out. You’re here to get prepared for careers and educational opportunities that are going to demand that you have even more skills,” explains Nicole Chestang, the executive vice president of the GED Testing Service.

The New Benchmark: Common Core Standards

According to the Maine Department of Education, the Common Core State Standards are a set of academic standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts, which includes literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects. The Common Core State Standards focus on developing college- and career-ready standards and ensuring these standards are evidence- and research-based and internationally benchmarked to top-performing countries.

Sample GED Science Question

Question: Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen combines with an element or compound. For instance, when raw apple slices are exposed to air, certain chemicals on the surface of the slices oxidize and turn brown. Antioxidants are substances that slow the rate of oxidation. Citrus fruits, for example, contain the antioxidant vitamin C.

Suppose fresh apple slices are dipped briefly in lemon juice and then placed in a bowl. How will the lemon juice affect the apple slices?

1. The apple slices will turn brown much more slowly.

2. The lemon juice, but not the apples, will turn brown.

3. The lemon juice, but not the apples, will oxidize the air.

4. The surface of the apple slices will oxidize more quickly.

5. The interior, not the surface, of the slices will be oxidized.

Answer: Lemons are a citrus fruit, so lemon juice contains the antioxidant vitamin C, which slows the rate of oxidation. If the apple slices are dipped in lemon juice, they will oxidize more slowly. As a result of the slower oxidation rate, they will also turn brown more slowly, so choice 1 is correct. The other choices reflect a misunderstanding of the material in the passage. Choices 2 and 3 are about changes in the lemon juice. The question asks about changes in the apple slices. Choice 4 says the surface of the apple slices will oxidize more quickly, but an antioxidant slows down oxidation. Choice 5 mentions the interior of the apple slices, but the lemon juice is on the exterior of the apple slices.

For example, one of the ten reading standards for literacy in science and technical subjects on key ideas and details is outlined below based on age group.

1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (grades 6-8)

2. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions. (grades 9-10)

3. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account. (grades 11-12)

Let’s look at a sample question from the current version of the GED Science test. Answering this question correctly would demonstrate mastery of the above standard at the 6-8 grade level. Imagine how much harder this question will have to be to demonstrate mastery at the 11-12 grade level. In addition, all of the information needed to answer the question can be found in the reading passage itself, whereas the new version of the test will require background science knowledge.

The Local Impact

There are many people in the area who have started taking the GED tests, yet have not completed all five to earn their High School Credential. Our program works hard to ensure the success of each student, as evidenced by the 85% passing rate of students who take the GED tests. Over the past three years, 760 students have enrolled in academic and career preparation programs at Wiscasset Adult & Community Education, 288 (38%) with the goal of earning a High School Credential. Of the students in the High School Completion Program, 145 (50%) students took at least one GED test, 122 (42%) students received passing scores, and 55 (19%) earned a High School Diploma. Obviously, there are many people that need to return to adult education to complete the remaining tests before 2014 to earn their High School Diploma.

“We’ve already begun the shift in using the GED as merely a stepping stone on the path to success, rather than a dead end,” notes Anne Fensie, Director of Adult Education in Wiscasset. “Our local requirements for testing include completion of orientation, career advising, goal planning, student success skills, and significant academic preparation before registering to test. The recently released details about the 2014 version [of the GED] support the mission of our school district: to educate each and every student to the fullest of his/her potential, enabling them to participate fully as a productive and self-fulfilled member of a democratic society.

Take Action

So, what does this mean for you if you don’t have a high school credential? If you wait until 2014 to get started on taking the GED tests, it will likely take longer to achieve your goal as you will be held to a higher standard. Most will need to get started now to be able to pass the new GED. It is also important to note that old scores will not transfer to the new version of the test. Beginning in 2014, anyone who has not earned their high school credential will have to take all of the new tests. Of course, the benefit of passing the new GED is that you and potential employers/schools will have proof that you are ready to succeed in college and more demanding, higher paying jobs. Our advice—get started now!

GED® and GED Testing Service® are registered trademarks of the American Council on Education (ACE). They may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of ACE or GED Testing Service. The GED® and GED Testing Service® brands are administered by GED Testing Service LLC under license from the American Council on Education.


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