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With New Version Looming, States Rethink GED

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

As implementation of the redesigned GED approaches, test-takers are rushing to complete the old GED test before Jan. 1, when the new version makes its debut.

St. Cloud, Minn., is among the communities that expects a higher-than-average number of students to graduate from the program this year as a result of the impending change.

Scott Wallner, assistant community education director with the St. Cloud school system, said in an interview with the St. Cloud Times, "many people who have maybe started to take the test or taken two or three exams want to finish before the end of the year, and we're anticipating those who are almost done will want to get it finished before the change."

In early June, my colleague Caralee Adams reported for Education Week on the possible effects that the new GED test might have on high school equivalency exams across the states.

The GED will switch to its new tests in 2014. Current test-takers must complete all of the five current parts of the test before January 1st, at which time their existing scores will expire, if not yet completed.

Aside from the termination of previous test scores, current test-takers would also have to adapt to the intensified standards and new format and technology required by the 2014 GED.

The 2014 version of the test will have more rigorous questions to align itself with the common-core standards. It will also combine what were previously the writing and literature sections, bringing the number of test sections down from five to four.

It will also now be completely computerized and test-takers will be required to use computer calculators.

As Education Week previously reported, concerns about reduced access to the GED are also beginning to surface.

While the average GED student is 25, members of the St. Cloud community are still concerned that the new set of technological skills required to take the test will prove problematic.

"The fact that it's going to be computerized may require a whole new set of skills that the paper-pencil tests hadn't," said Wallner.

Additionally, the new, larger price tag is causing some states to shop elsewhere for high school equivalency tests.

Iowa decided to replace the new GED, instead opting for the HiSET. This test, developed by the nonprofit ETS, will accord with Iowa student standards and will cost $50—a third of the GED's $120 price tag, though the price students will pay depends on the state.

As previously reported, other states are also opening the door to different high school equivalency test options. New Jersey, for example, plans on using a combination of the GED, HiSET, TASC, and the Pearson VUE, according to the North Jersey Record.

The GED, for its part, maintains that it is the only equivalency test completely aligned with the new common-core standards.

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