If you are thinking about getting your GED or if you have taken some of the tests toward certification but not all of them, here’s some important news:
Get that GED now. Changes are coming to the testing process that could make getting the high school diploma equivalent more difficult and more expensive.
The test, which used to be administered by the nonprofit GED Testing Service, has been newly contracted with Pearson View Testing, which is a for-profit company, said said Monique Fortmann, director of the adult education division for Missoula County Public Schools.
Beginning in January 2014, the test, which now costs $61 to take, will cost $120 – and that’s only a tiny piece of the changes that are on the horizon, Fortmann said.
The new version will no longer be a pencil and paper test but will instead be a computer-based test that is not online.
Test takers will be expected to be able to type 35 words per minute or more on a standard keyboard, and the new version will require people to have a greater knowledge base.
The current version, which was created in 2002 is a ready-based test that provides the information and data in which students are being tested, Fortmann explained.
“For example, you read an excerpt then respond to multiple choice questions about what you just read,” she said. “The new version won’t give you the excerpt; the expectation is that you will already know the information or reading when you answer the questions.
“Questions won’t be true or false, or multiple choice, they will be things like fill in the blank, drag and drop, and short answer essays.”
But here’s the kicker, according to Fortmann: The current GED test has five parts, and anyone who hasn’t passed all of the parts will have to finish the testing before January 2014 or they will have to start the testing process all over, using the new format and paying the new fee.
“There are so many people out there that are so close to passing,” she said. “Now is the time to do it.”
Recognizing that change is usually accompanied by uncertainty, Fortmann is concerned that the new testing format and cost will create barriers for people who want to get their GED.
And the change means teaching services at the Lifelong Learning Center will undergo some transformation. One of the immediate priorities is moving the program to an online format, and gearing the lessons and teaching tools to be iPad- and smart phone-friendly and accessible.
“We are being asked to change the way we provide our services,” Fortmann said. “Currently we are working at an individual level, where we assess a person’s skills and education and fill in the holes they have to complete the GED. Now, we have to start with fundamental skills and build up from there.”
For the adult clientele, most of whom juggle work and family obligations while studying for the GED, it likely means a greater investment of time to complete the learning-testing process.
“The current test – the 2002 version – really is a high school equivalency,” Fortmann said. “The state of Montana recognizes that, you can get into college with it, employers accept it, and at times the military will accept it.
“The new GED 2014 is coming out with credentials that are at different levels. When someone takes the test, they will be scored as ‘High School Graduate,’ ‘Work Force Ready,’ or ‘Post Secondary Education,’ which means they are ready to go into college.”
The new ranking is worrisome for Fortmann, and only time will tell how it will play out.
For certain, getting a GED before January 2014 is well advised.
The Lifelong Learning Center tests about 300 people a year, Fortmann said. Montana’s passing rate in 2011 was around 79.3 percent, while Missoula’s rate was slightly higher at 85 percent to 88 percent during the years 2007-2011.
Getting the certification is critical for anyone concerned about expanding their working opportunities.
“I want to tell people to not wait to get their GED, especially when you look at the labor statistics around the number of people Montana will need in the work force in the next 10 years,” Fortmann said. “It’s people with high school diplomas or the equivalent, and with some work-force training that will be the most in demand.”