These changes will increase the rigor of the test and require students to pay a larger fee for taking it.
Referred to as the “21st Century Initiative,” the changes will align the five-part test with the Common Core Standards. These standards have been adopted by 46 states, including Tennessee.
Charlotte Samples, who oversees the Bradley County Adult Education GED program, said the new test will add Algebra II and some trigonometry, as well as basic science and history knowledge questions.
She encouraged those working toward the diploma to ensure they will complete the tests before the changes are made. Anyone half way through the process as of Jan. 1, 2014, will have to start over.
“One of the things it is really going to affect is the students because of the cost of the test,” Samples said.
According to a press release from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the fee will go from the current average of $65 to a minimum of $120 for testing.
“Even at $120 that is still too much for our population to pay,” Samples said.
Samples is already working on ways to provide financial assistance to students, who have difficulty paying the fee. Samples said she has partnered with a local Rotary club to offer partial scholarships, and is pursuing other partnerships. She said these students must achieve a higher score to qualify.
Another major change in 2014 is the test will be taken electronically.
Samples said it is not possible to take the test electronically at this point. In order to help with the transition to a fully electronic test, pilot testing sites are being established at UT-Martin, Tennessee State University and Walters State Community College, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor.
Samples said making the test electronic ensures students will have computer skills required in a job setting.
“Another way we feel it will impact is teacher training. We are going to have to train all of our teachers on the new material,” Samples said.
She said the changes were good because they brought the test up to the same level as high school, and “it preserves the integrity” of the GED diploma.
“It will still be in testing centers that are proctored, in testing centers that have an association with ACE, which is American Council on Education,” Samples said.
Samples said the number of people coming to her office to pursue a GED diploma has increased since a tough economy left many without a job.
The GED program offered at REACH Adult High School consists of the pre-testing and remedial classes necessary to prepare for the GED tests.
Samples said the tests allow the school to determine if classes are needed. The actual GED tests are given at Cleveland State Community College.
“We have a 92 percent pass rate on the first sitting in Bradley County. So, 92 percent of our students pass it on the first try,” Samples said. “We are really proud of that.”
There were 82 students who completed their GED through the program so far this school year.
For more information on taking the GED, contact Samples at 473-8473.