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GED changes gives candidates until 2014 to finish
OXFORD — Changes to national GED testing mean those currently pursuing their equivalency diploma have until the end of next year to finish or start all over again.
Federal, state and local adult education workers are encouraging those who have began a GED within the past 10 years to visit a testing center and finish before December 1, 2013.
SAD 17's Adult Education Director Clyde Clark presented changes in GED testing to the school board during its November 19 meeting.
Beginning in 2014, the question, subject matter and delivery of the test will be "exceedingly different," Clark told the board.
GED testing is updated every 10 years to incorporate different types of learning at the high school level.
The new changes should have been in place in 2012, but were delayed while the American Council on Education, the non-profit that develops the GED, looked at the idea of computerizing test delivery.
In 2011, ACE partnered with Pearson Education to develop the new GED. Pearson is a private corporation that specializes in testing services, Clark told the board.
The partnership's result, Clark said, is a GED that is completely different than previous tests.
Instead of testing on five subjects, the test now only has four – language arts, social studies, math and science.
Reading and writing tests on the current GED have been combined in language arts, with additional tests scattered through the four tests.
The question format will depart from primarily multiple choice, and include short and long answer essays and embedded answer questions.
Additionally, delivery of the new test is fully computerized, Clark said – candidates will need to use a computer, with very few exceptions.
Increased expenses will result from the changes, Clark said. Because of computer delivery, each GED testing site will be required to become a Pearson VUE testing center.
SAD 17 has the technology required for the change, but many other districts in the state do not, Clark told the board.
Furthermore, the cost of leasing the test is higher, he said. Under state law, that increased cost cannot be charged to the candidate, leaving the state with a bigger bill.
The new test will require additional preparation and those costs also cannot be charged to candidates, Clark said – the cost is covered by a combination of state, local and federal funds.
Computer delivery could result in additional preparation, as some students may not be fully computer-literate, he explained.
"Many adults who are without a high school credential don't have those [computer] skills," Clark told the board.
The state is examining ways to reduce the changes' expense, including adding to the budget and changing the law to make candidates pay, but Clark wasn't convinced either strategy would succeed.
Maine, along with at least 34 other states, are examining the possibility of using an alternate GED provider to avoid the cost increase, Clark told the board.
Regardless of what happens, the 2002 version of the GED will disappear in December 2013 – the new test goes into effect January 1, 2014.
Those who have started the 2002 version but don't finish before December 1, 2013 will have all their progress erased and will need to start over with the new test, Clark said.
Last Wednesday, Clark warned candidates about online GED scams.
Although the new test would be computerized, it will not be available online and candidates should avoid any service offering online GED tests, he said.
Clark estimated 150 candidates in the area had started the GED, but hadn't finished since 2008.