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July 22, 2013

Final GED free testing date is July 31

Tri-County urged to complete GED before changes

CORBIN — By Charlotte Underwood / Staff Writer

Adult education directors and GED testing centers are urging Tri-Countians who have already begun the GED to finish what they have started before new, more expensive and harder GED tests are incorporated in 2014.

Testing fees have been waived for the past two months as an incentive for test takers. The final free test date is July 31, according to Laurel County Adult Education and Literacy Director Kathryn Hardman.

The new tests are touted to be somewhat more difficult than the current test, but “they will not be so difficult that people will have trouble with them because that is not the case,” Hardman said, adding the Adult Education centers in the Tri-County would be proficient in preparing students for the new exams.

“The main push is why wait, especially if you have already started the test and the price will go up after the end of the year,” Hardman said, adding students should really take advantage of the final free test date on July 31.

She also explained that anyone who has already taken and passed any portion of the current GED test would lose those grades and have to start over at the beginning of the test if not completed by the end of 2013. After Jan. 1, 2014, the cost of the test is expected to double from $60 to $120, though it will vary from state to state as the GED exam changes will be nationwide.

Though the General Education Development exam has undergone periodic updates since its beginning in 1942, the upcoming changes are some of the most significant, according to GED center directors.

According to the GED Testing Service LLC which is developing the upcoming GED Tests, the 2014 version will be administered on computers and will be correlated to the Common Core State Standards. This will help GED students stay abreast of the changing education and employment requirements and expectations. GED instructors and examiners such as Lindsey LaBore of Laurel County’s Adult Education and Literacy Center said she doesn’t know for sure whether the new tests will seem more difficult for adult learners, but she agrees that it only makes sense for those who have already started the test to complete the current “familiar test before the end of the year.”

“The biggest change is that the old paper and pencil tests are being completely done away with and everything will be done on computers,” Hardman said, adding this had many more advantages than disadvantages.

“The way testing is done now, we have to set various testing dates each month to give the exam,” Hardman said. She also said she “had been assured that students would not have to have significant computer skills to take the new test,” but that people’s comfort level could be a factor if they were “not used” to working on computers.

After the new test is incorporated, students will basically be able to take the test whenever they want, without having to wait on a test to be scheduled. Requiring the test to be done on computers will also help students become more computer-literate, which in today’s world of advanced technology can only make them more prepared for future employment.

The new tests will have the same core content areas, with the exception that language arts reading and language arts writing have “essentially been combined,” Hardman said.

The four content areas of literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies, will measure knowledge and skills that are essential for career and college readiness.

Part of the reasoning for the changes, according to Hardman, is that GED test graduates must remain competitive with students who complete their high school credentials in a traditional manner.

“We have been through updates before, it is part of the process to keep the GED current to today’s standards of knowledge and employment,” Hardman said.

Whitley County Director of Adult Education Susan Dixon said she agreed that it was time for an update.

“The test is designed to be the equivalent of a high-school diploma and these updates are being made to make sure GED graduates are on the same course,” Dixon said. She also added that she felt confident that Whitley County Adult Education would be able to prepare students for the new version of the test.

“Even before the announcement of the change over to computer testing, we have incorporated a lot of computer skills into our everyday academic instruction,” Dixon said.

Another change to the GED program will be the increase in cost to take the exam.

In the Commonwealth, GED testing centers have been operating under a “break-even structure because the provider had been nonprofit,” according to Jacqueline Korengel, director of strategic initiatives for Kentucky Adult Education, which is a part of the Council on Postsecondary Education, which regulates testing prices.

Dixon said the cost was a concern because there were students now that sometimes struggled with the $60 exam fee, but that the new version of the test would be able to be taken and paid for in installments.

“It’s my understanding that it can be paid for in installments, which would end up being $30 for each of the four tests which make up the exam,” Dixon said.

The new test will have four parts, combining material now found in the reading and writing portions of the test into one “language arts” portion while keeping math, science and social studies.

The GED exams were developed in 1942 by the American Council on Education as a high school completion strategy for veterans returning from World War II who wanted to go to college. Since that time, some 18 million GEDs have been awarded. There are about 410,000 working-age Kentuckians without a high school diploma or GED.

It is estimated by the state that about 16,000 people in Kentucky have started, but not finished the test this year.

In 2012, Whiltey County had over 500 students enrolled in the GED program, with 61 graduating.

Laurel County had over 600 students enrolled in its adult education classes, with 190 graduating. Hardman said she hoped to have that many or more graduate this year.

“With the job opportunities that are supposed to be moving into the area and while the testing cost is low, now is the perfect time to get your GED,” Hardman said.

“Really it’s a small investment for the difference in the amount of money it will help a graduate earn compared to someone without a high-school diploma or GED,” Dixon agreed.

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