Closing the book on the GED test
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/302-0949 November 19, 2013 11:02PM
Math teacher Violet Schmuck helps student Stacy Ozuna, of Merrillville, with a problem in a GED class at the Merrillville Adult Education Center at Merrillville High School. | Carole Carlson/Post-Tribune
The GED Test
It debuted in 1942 when a high school education was sufficient for many industrial jobs. It covers English language arts, social studies, science, and mathematics.
The GED is used in all 50 states, the U.S. military and correctional facilities. Nearly 800,000 tests are taken annually.
In 2011, the not-for-profit American Council on Education, which developed the GED, partnered with Pearson Education, a for-profit company.
Updated: December 21, 2013 6:05AM
Ushered in with the World War II education boom, the venerable GED test will disappear from Indiana’s landscape next year.
The GED, or General Education Development test, is being replaced by another vender with another acronym — TASC, which stands for Test Assessing Secondary Completion.
In August, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development ditched the GED after months of review. Indiana contracted with CTB/McGraw-Hill for the TASC high school equivalency exam that about 10,000 Hoosiers take annually to improve their job opportunities.
While about 40 states are weighing their testing options, Indiana and New York are the first states to begin TASC testing; both will start in January.
Joe Frank, spokesman for the Department of Workforce Development, said the GED, now offered exclusively by Pearson Education, will be completely computer-based next year, instead of paper-and-pencil, which would force some organizations to stop providing the test.
“We would have lost half our providers, including the correctional facilities,” Frank said.
Pearson Education, which is retooling the test, plans to nearly double the cost, bringing it to about $120. Frank said officials hope to keep the TASC test under $70.
The other big difference is TASC is tougher than the current GED.
“We’re trying to increase the rigor on this, so employers, as well as the military will see this a true high school equivalency exam,” said Frank.
Merrillville Adult Education Supervisor Sherri Green said in practice tests, about half the students said the science portion was difficult. “They said they needed more content knowledge.”
The change in tests and word of the new test’s rigor has triggered an onslaught of students rushing to take the GED before it disappears. If they don’t finish, they’ll have to take the new test.
Christina Rodriquez, 43, of Portage, is in the GED pipeline at the Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities center in Portage. She’s been studying for the test since the spring, while working a full-time job as a custodian at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City.
“I’m trying to push myself a little bit harder,” said Rodriquez who takes the test in Portage Nov. 25-26. “I want to further my education,” said Rodriquez, the mother of five children.
Merrillville Adult Education student Stacy Ozuna, 22, of Merrillville, just needs to pass the math section. She missed passing by one point earlier so she’s set for a retake Dec. 9.
“The new test is harder. I took it on the computer,” she said of TASC. Ozuna is part an Indiana Workforce Development program that trains students for high demand jobs. Ozuna said she plans to become a certified nursing assistant with a goal of becoming a nurse.
Thomas McCoy, 20, of Griffith, said he’s not worried about rushing to take the GED. “I want to make sure I can pass it. If I think I can, I’ll take it.”
Many educators think the TASC test will be closely aligned with the Common Core curriculum that’s been adopted by several states for K-12 students. Indiana is reevaluating its support of Common Core and its State Board of Education will make a decision on its implementation next year.
“We’re still in negotiations with how it’s going to look,” said Frank. “We’re not there yet. We do want it focused on college and career readiness.”
Rebecca Reiner, executive director of Neighbors Educational Opportunities, said extensive training has begun for teachers.
“What we’re doing in the classroom has been geared toward this test in terms of writing prompts and content. In the past, social studies and science were more reading tests. You might not need solid knowledge, now it will be content specific.”