GED testing changes coming in 2014 - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

GED testing changes coming in 2014

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We can all agree that every employer would like to see every employee hold at least a high school degree or the equivalent.

For nearly 70 years, the General Education Development test, the G.E.D. has been done with paper and pencil. Nearly 20,000 people took the test in Alabama within the last year.  Next year, even more are expected to take it.

Come January 1, 2014. The test will have totally different look. The test is set to be entirely computer based. It will have multiple choice, short answer and essay questions.  The new design is said to put stronger emphasis on comprehension and better prepare those who pass to enter the work force.

For 46-year-old Sharon Caldwell, making the decision to get her G.E.D. was something that did not come easily.

"I have always wanted to go to college. I was a teen mom. So, I dropped out of school early. I educated my children and I just felt like, this was my time, now, to do something for myself," says Caldwell. "I was afraid, I was terrified of whether, could I do this? Could I really do this?

Caldwell went through the G.E.D. training program at Jefferson State Community College and eventually passed the test.  Now, she's preparing to graduate with an associate degree from Jeff State this summer with a 3.16 G.P.A.  

"They encouraged me, they worked with me, they just helped me. Just reminding me there was so much in me that there was still a lot that I could do," said Caldwell.

Caldwell, like many others in Alabama, went back to get her G.E.D.

But starting one year from now, the G.E.D. will take on a much different look.

Kim Lee, vice chancellor for adult education and G.E.D. testing with the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education says changes to the test were needed to keep up with course standards for secondary education and the requirements of the modern day workforce.

"Having adults be better prepared to enter the workforce, or improve their standing within the workforce, as well as help to identify their readiness for post-secondary education," says Lee.

The new test will give two separate scores. The first, is for high school curriculum knowledge. The second, for college or career readiness.

With the new test being computer based, keyboarding and computer skills will become crucial.

"The folks coming into test will need to have these computer skills to take the test, as well as well as the learning skills," says Mo Jones, the state's interim G.E.D. administrator. Jones says the new emphasis on computer skills, will help test takers be prepared to respond to job postings and applications. Most of which are exclusively online.

"This better prepares them for postsecondary or workforce without additional education, development classes, or additional training required," says Jones.

Sharon Caldwell understands how difficult a decision it is to take that first step.

Her advice to those wanting to still get their G.E.D. "Don't waste another moment, this is something you owe yourself. It is hard, it is very challenging," says Caldwell. "Even if you fail, just keep trying, every day that you're alive, you can try and eventually you will succeed"

for those out there wanting to take that step toward getting their G.E.D. The official testing website, offers an example of what the test will look like. You can enter in your zip code to find the testing center closest to you.

People are strongly encouraged to utilize resources and adult education program before taking the test. Also, only take the test at an official G.E.D. testing location.

Right now, the test costs $50 in Alabama.  Kim Lee says that with the changes to the test, the cost will likely triple.

However, the State Board of Education still must approve the cost increase, but it looks like the recommendation will be to increase the cost to $150, to take the test.

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