“I’m hoping that those who are searching for an opportunity to get their GED will realize that if they’ve been thinking about doing it, they need to do it now (before the changes take effect),” said Zoe Renfro, Adult Education of Bradley County district coordinator.
Renfro said she encourages those considering getting their GED diploma to complete the process this year. Anyone who started the process, but has not completed it by Dec. 31 will have to start over in the new format. The test changes take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Major changes are coming to the GED test to align the equivalency test with Common Core standards being implemented in many states next year. The new GED will be taken on a computer.
“The thought behind it is that it will be as close as possible to the same standards and the same expectations that they have in high school,” Renfro said. “So that when they get a GED instead of a high school diploma they are not missing out on any of the skills they need to be college and career ready.”
The goal of updating standards is to limit the remedial courses that students have to take when they enroll in college.
Along with switching to an electronic format, the cost of the test will also be increasing. After Jan. 1, 2014, the test will cost $125.
Current cost for the test is $65. Adult Education of Bradley County is able to offer the test at $25 per student through a Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant.
Renfro said there will still be a required preliminary testing component.
“We really, at this point, do not all of the details. We just have some general ideas,” Renfro said.
The new test is being developed by Pearson Vue.
Each portion of the final GED test is timed. At this point, a student is required to reach a certain score on each section of the test, as well as a minimum. If this will change in 2014 is uncertain.
Students can register with Adult Education of Bradley County now, and new classes start every two weeks. Classes are held for GED students four days a week. Morning and evening classes are offered to accommodate job schedules. Morning classes start at 8 a.m. and afternoon classes start at 4:15 p.m.
How long the process takes depends on the student and how many content areas they need to work on.
“It also depends on their dedication,” Renfro said.
Adult Education of Bradley County has a 92 percent pass rate the first time students take the test.
“Our biggest challenge has always been our students’ math [scores], and my concern, as a former math teacher, is that with these extended expectations ... it is going to be more difficult for our students, just because they haven’t been exposed to it,” Renfro said.
She emphasized even if a students had attended school until 11th or 12th grade, some of the information would be requirements not previously taught.
One aspect of the 2014 test will be asking students to write out in sentence form how to work math problems.
“Students are not used to that,” Renfro said.
While some testing centers in the state have already piloted using computer-based testing, the majority of GED tests are still taken with pencil and paper. Renfro said as the state and the nation move to an electronic format, questions are being raised about how necessary equipment will be funded.
Going to computer-based testing adds another element in requiring students to have adequate typing skills to complete the test in the required time.
“So you have to teach keyboarding. Right now, within the grant that we get from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to run the GED program, we’re not allowed to teach keyboarding and fund it through that grant. We can’t pay anybody to teach keyboarding,” Renfro said.
Those wanting to complete the GED requirements can register at Adult Education of Bradley County at 1450 Strawberry Lane. Photo identification is required for registration.
After registration, students attend a two-day orientation, which includes the preliminary tests required before the GED test. Renfro said the orientation is three hours each day. The orientation is scheduled to be a Tuesday and Wednesday with morning and evening times available.
Further information is available by contacting Adult Education of Bradley County at 473-8473.