GED Worries

At my library GED classes and testing are kind of a big thing.  A community education group has taught and facilitated GED testing for some years in partnership with my library.  We serve a population of around 30,000 people, and every Spring and Fall we host maxed out GED and pre-GED programs, with very few of the participants taking the test as a capstone to homeschooling. 

Starting January 1, 2014 the cost to take the test greatly increases, partially due to privatization of the test.  Before now our semester long GED and pre-GED classes for $35 including the test thanks to various funding for the community education group that runs the sessions.  Generally the GED test costs $60.  The new GED courses will include computer literacy, something I support, but will also cost upwards of $120, require the use of proprietary software and/or web portal access, and most likely require testing centers.

The new test not only will be out of reach for a large number of patrons who are currently working towards their certification, but also greatly reduces our ability to support these patrons.  We have a number of public computers for free use, but we only have so many and they get quite heavy throughout the whole day.  Supposedly the new tests are cheaper to administer and grade, yet are tied to a significantly increased price.

One hope for adult education and literacy programs like the one here is that states are pushing back for affordable and accessible testing options.
Last month, New York, Montana and New Hampshire announced they were switching to a new high school equivalency exam, and California officials began looking into amending regulations to drop the requirement that the state only use the GED test. Missouri has requested bids from test makers and plans to make a decision this month. Several others states, including Massachusetts, Maine, Indiana and Iowa, are making plans to request information about alternative exams.
Unfortunately "making plans to request information" means we will go live with the new test next year.  In the mean time we are in a holding pattern until we learn the details of what we will need to (or can) provide.  I currently see very few ways that the changes will not limit the size of the class, due to student finances and due to our limited number of public computers.


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