Major changes for adults seeking their high school equivalency diploma came this month.
The price and criteria related to the traditional GED as well as the alternative HiSET (for high school equivalency test) went into effect Jan. 1.
“It does not matter in the state of Tennessee which test they take because the diploma is exactly the same,” said Zoe Renfro of Reach Adult High School.
Renfro said the changes have not deterred local adults from starting on the journey to an equivalency diploma.
“We are still having phone calls every day. … The big surprise was people wanting to get their equivalence diploma has not changed,” Renfro said.
The General Education test was modified this year to align it with the Common Core State Standards for education and make it a completely online test, according to Renfro.
‘The GED is fully aligned to the Common Core standards, which will make it much more difficult than the … GED that was being given before. The HiSET is aligned as much as school curriculums are aligned, so it’s following what high schools are doing,” Renfro said.
The writing portion of the test will now be a persuasive essay rather than a narrative essay. “The biggest change has been within the math, but the skills haven’t changed. It’s just the way the questions are worded. So, we are working diligently with our students to give them a lot of sample questions,” Renfro said. “There are more word problems — there is less calculate and more ‘set it up’ — so that you know how to find the answer.”
The practice test that must be completed prior to registering for the GED test has also been switched to an online format and is taken at a testing center.
Renfro said she has not been given access to a GED practice test for review. However, the nonprofit that developed the HiSET, the Educational Testing Service, has provided a sample practice test.
The price of taking the GED test was projected to be $125. Renfro said the price has been decreased by a federal grant to Pearson VUE, which offers computer-based testing.
“So the cost is going to be the same,” Renfro said.
The cost is $75.
Another change effective this month is when students must pay for the test.
“When they register for it online, they pay it then,” Renfro said.
The preparation for the two tests is basically the same.
With these changes, adult education programs are donating a part of their time to preparing students for what the test will be like.
“They get to see sample questions, they get to hear about what it’s going to be like before they go test, which we have never had before. We are grateful to have the opportunity to prepare the students in a way we didn’t get to prepare them before,” Renfro said.
Renfro said Reach staff also assists students in completing the electronic registration for taking either exam.
While registration for either test must be completed online, those taking the HiSET have the option to take the test on paper. The GED test is only offered as an electronic test.
A student can also choose to take portions of the HiSET electronically and do other portions on paper.
Renfro said this is a good option for those who are concerned about their typing skills but want to take the rest electronically.
Renfro said many of the students at Reach do not have good keyboarding skills.
She said she and her staff have received professional development in teaching the new math approach.
Cleveland State Community College is the nearest testing site for Bradley County students.