Recently, the GED Testing Service announced a scoring adjustment, which, in fact, has huge ramifications for all those seeking to obtain a GED (General Education Diploma).

To fully appreciate the significance of this change, it helps to take a brief step back in time.  A long running joke in GED circles – among teachers and students alike – was that GED stood for “good enough diploma.” This reflected the common view that a GED was inferior to a regular high school diploma. To that end, it was no surprise when the GED Testing Service announced they were developing a more rigorous version of the test, in an effort to align with federal education standards. The “new GED” was launched in January 2014, but the real surprise came a year later, when the experts saw just how far the pendulum had swung!

By the Numbers
Consider this:  In 2013, 540,000 adults completed the GED, while in 2014, just 86,000 passed. That’s only a little more than 15% from the previous year’s total! It was very clear that something was amiss with the new exam; too many people were failing or, based on stories they had heard, not even trying to schedule exams. Without a diploma, people were not able to move on with plans for their lives. Measuring the GED against high school graduates’ knowledge confirmed the errors; one headline even read, “Ivy League Grads Can’t Pass the New GED.”

As a Philadelphia youth GED teacher for close to a decade, it was disheartening to watch so many hardworking students repeatedly being told that they failed, when they clearly had mastered large portions of the material. So, when the GED Testing Service announced in January that they were retroactively adjusting their scoring to better reflect the actual knowledge and graduation standards of our nation’s high schools, I was ecstatic.

Small Change, Big Impact
It is estimated that the exam score change will benefit over 100,000 test takers nationwide.  In fact, eleven students at JEVS E3 Power Center City immediately learned that they had passed sections of the GED – in some cases multiple times. One young man, by virtue of completing all four sections, became an official graduate, while a diligent, but long-struggling young woman now has only one of the four sections left. Two other students, who previously were told they had failed, are now halfway to their future! One went from one passed to two and six more now have their first section under their belts.  Not only were these eleven students jubilant and more motivated than ever, the excitement spread to all of our students even those who have yet to take their first test. Members are excited and more determined than ever, recognizing that their diploma is within reach!

“I passed Science, and now I’m ready to take History…My mom deserves a diploma.” -Zy’kir

That is what’s so wonderful about this change. In Philadelphia alone, there are tens of thousands who need a GED to move forward in life – to secure a job, enter a post-secondary institution, or join the military; now, they will no longer be thwarted by a test whose bar had been incorrectly set.  And that’s good news indeed!  At the same time, two other key demarcations have been established to guarantee that we are not returning to the days of “the good enough diploma.” While a score of 145 is passing, a score of 165 will indicate college readiness, and 175, potential college credit.  In this way, the test is able to reward success, provide a transition to the next step in life, and indicate potential college success at the same time.  Everyone wins!

–Ann Doley, GED Teacher, JEVS E3 Power Center City

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