Department of Education raises GED standards

On+Jan.+1%2C+the+General+Educational+Development+Testing+Service+will+implement+a+revised+version+of+the+GED+diploma+equivalent.+The+test+will+be+more+rigorous+and+cost+more+money+to+take.

On Jan. 1, the General Educational Development Testing Service will implement a revised version of the GED diploma equivalent. The test will be more rigorous and cost more money to take.

Brayden Parker

On Jan. 1, the General Educational Development Testing Service will implement a revised version of the GED diploma equivalent. The test will be more rigorous and cost more money to take.
On Jan. 1, 2014 the General Educational Development Testing Service will implement a revised version of the GED diploma equivalent. The test will be more rigorous and cost more money to take.
While the majority of high school seniors obtain their diploma through graduation, for the few who choose the General Educational Development test, the road just became more challenging.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced the current 12-year old format of the GED test will be replaced by a more rigorous, electronic version Jan. 1, 2014. Including a price increase as well, the new GED exam, created by the GED Testing Service, is a complete reconstruction of its present status.
The primary change in the content of the 2014 GED is the inclusion of more intense subject areas. In an attempt to measure “career- and college- readiness,” the revised exam will increase content in the fundamental subject areas of literacy, mathematics, social studies and science.
The GED Testing Service (GEDTS) has “changed the questions to align with common core measures that most states have agreed they want their high school graduates to have,” Tom Robbins, GED Director for DESE, said. “Their new test meets those standards.”
Upon finishing the 2014 GED, students can obtain their diploma on two sets of standards. According to Robbins, students will either pass at the current high school level or at the college and career level. Which level students reach could affect acceptance to college and hiring at jobs.
This increased rigor would be a polar opposite of the test as it stands now. Although the GED is not the most popular way to graduate, students who have taken the test believe it may well be the easiest. Former RBHS student Alex Arthur noted how simple the diploma-equivalent was.
“Everything on it was really easy actually,” Arthur said. “I learned everything that was on the test in the 9th grade … Nothing I learned at Rock Bridge was on the GED.”
While subsequent challenges may arise while preparing for the added intensity, the 2014 exam comes also with a new price tag. As the paper test is replaced by an electronic version, the fee will heighten from the current $40 to $140. The cost can be attributed strictly to the GEDTS, the vendor who creates, sells and markets the test. Betsy Jones, RBHS Director of Guidance, believes that this will have negative ramifications on the students who currently take or are planning to take the GED.
“It’s going to be a significant problem,” Jones said. “It’s also going to be a significant problem for the schools; we don’t have the budgets to support those kinds of dollars.”
Although the demanding content and augmented cost will have their adverse impacts on test-takers trying to obtain a diploma equivalent, there are apparent positive impacts as well. According to the RBHS Guidance office, the school’s percentage of dropouts was just under two percent last year. Jones hopes that the alteration of the GED will continue to lower that dropout rate.
“DESE, by changing standards, is trying to encourage kids to stay in school,” Jones said. “I think we will have more kids staying in school.”
Regardless of the effects of the upcoming changes, they will be present come 2014. The GEDTS maintains that any pending test scores will be void when the new test is introduced on Jan. 1, and students wishing to obtain their GED will be required to take the 2014 version.
Even still, DESE is not recommending students to go ahead and finish the GED prior to the changeover. While the increase of cost could influence prospective students to take the test while the price is still low, Robbins advises students to not proceed until they feel adequately prepared.
“I think your best bet is to take it when you’re ready,” Robbins said. “I would go ahead and say it won’t do you any good to take the test before you’re ready, no matter which test it is.”
By Brayden Parker