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GED test makeover includes the Common Core

TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2014 12:54 PM

As students and educators continue to use the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in classrooms across the country, Ohio is focusing on adults who want to earn their General Equivalency Diplomas. The GED test received a makeover in Ohio earlier this month, changing the cost to take the exam and adding a more intensive analytical thinking portion.

Many states, including Ohio, view earning a GED as the equivalent of graduating from high school. The exam's transition to using the Standards comes as the next logical step in adult education. According to Holly Pletcher, C-TEC's adult basic literacy education director, many states will fall in line later this year.

"That's the goal, to improve the rigor of the test, to make sure that those who earn a GED have been assessed in a very similar way that a high school graduate has been," Pletcher told the Newark Advocate. "It needs to be a firm equivalent."

Statistics show more adults earning an education
In the U.S., almost 40 million adults - more than a million people in Ohio alone - don't have a high school education. The average GED test taker is 26 years old and lives in low-income household.  According to the CTEC Adult Education Center in Newark, Ohio, only 289 people took the GED test at the clinic in 2012. Almost 450 people took the GED exam in 2013, showing a 55 percent increase. Across the state, only 23,000 people attempted to complete the exam in 2012. Almost 34,000 people took the exam in 2013, a 47 percent increase.

Changes to the GED
In previous years, the GED paper exam cost test takers $40. Now people can only take the exam on a computer, which costs $120. First-time test takers can receive an $80 voucher, making the out-of-pocket cost still $40. However, the voucher program will run only through 2015. The structure of the GED has also changed. In the past, test takers needed to work through five sections: math, science, social studies, language arts and writing. With the new format, adults will no longer see a separate writing section. Instead, essay questions will be spread sporadically throughout the exam.

In Newark, Pletcher collaborates with Anne Bowman, C-TEC adult education coordinator of assessment and talent management, to bring more people into the program. In addition to using the voucher system, testers can take the exam one section at a time. This means that they can learn the complex reading skills necessary to pass the language portion, then focus on the mathematical skills required of high school students under the CCSS.