Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 30, 2013

State replacing GED with new exam

Officials say exam is expected to better meet industry demands.

By Lindsey Ziliak Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Indiana will be replacing the GED with its own high school equivalency test next year, state officials announced Wednesday.

The state will contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill — the company blamed for this year’s ISTEP testing glitches — to provide the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, according to a press release from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The assessment will be aligned with Indiana’s College and Career Readiness standards and will increase in rigor over the next few years to meet industry demands.

The GED Testing Service issued its own statement following the announcement.

“The simple fact is that what GED Testing Service had to offer was different than what the state wanted,” said Nicole Chestang, executive vice president of the GED Testing Service. “While we, and a large majority of other states, find the GED test to be a more effective test, we are disappointed that we couldn’t submit a proposal to offer the GED test in Indiana next year. We are as committed as we’ve always been to giving the adults in Indiana who lack a high school diploma a fighting chance at a better life. We’ve always had a strong relationship with the adult education, workforce development and Department of Education in Indiana, and we hope to work with them in the future to ensure that the 2014 GED program will still be available to the adult learners seeking the value and portability of the GED credential.”

According to the state, though, the new assessment will be considerably cheaper than the GED, which is set to double in price next year.

The test will also be offered both online and on paper — another departure from the GED.

Starting in January, the GED will only be offered online.

Earlier this year, local officials were worried about the coming changes to the GED.

Many high school dropouts in the area can’t afford to pay $120 or more for the test, and some don’t know how to work a computer, said Bob Stephenson, executive director of the Literacy Coalition of Howard County.

“We thought it was going to be another obstacle our students face,” he said.

But Stephenson was bracing for those changes anyway. The coalition invested in some new computers to train students on and started revamping its tutoring sessions since the new GED will also come with new standards.

Then over the summer he found out Indiana would likely join a growing number of states opting out of the GED.

“New York was the first,” he said. “They gave momentum to other states to have the courage to do it.”

For months after that initial announcement, though, Stephenson didn’t hear anything else. It was like it was top secret, he said.

Even now, Stephenson doesn’t really know what’s going on.

The state is entering uncharted waters, he said. The GED has been used since 1942.

He doesn’t know what the new test will look like. He saw some practice questions Thursday and thought it looked a little more in-depth than the GED.

The science questions required some math skills like calculating percentages, he said.

Beyond that, his knowledge of the new assessment is limited.

For instance, Stephenson has no idea if other states will recognize Indiana’s assessment as a valid high school equivalency test. He said he assumes they would, but he couldn’t say that for sure.

“It’s a really odd situation that we’ve not seen before,” he said.

He and his staff will learn more from the state today during a webinar.

“That should give us an idea of what we’re dealing with,” he said.

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com.

TRAINING DATES RESCHEDULED The state's announcement has prompted the Literacy Coalition of Howard County to postpone its next tutor training session. The training was set for Tuesday. It has been moved to Oct. 8. There will be another one Oct.