By Malcolm Roux
In 2014, the GED exam, a test which offered an alternative to a high school diploma, was overhauled, and made significantly harder. In 2013, the last year of the old exam, 86% of testees passed the exam, earning them an equivalent to a high school diploma; comparatively, only 71% passed in 2014. However, this is not the area the new exam is having the most effect. The gross numbers of people taking the exam drastically dropped from a whopping 18.5 thousand to a dismal 2.8 thousand.
Although most agree that the old GED exam did not mimic the skills learned in today’s high schools, many thought this change came too quickly. The pure numbers show that a much smaller base of people even feel confident enough to take the exam, and those who do take it pass at a lower rate. Additionally, this disadvantages those who are seeking their GED certificate now as opposed to only two years ago.
Proponents of the new GED see the change as long over due. “At the core of it we had to ask, ‘Does the GED actually measure what a high school diploma would provide?’” asks Dr. Bob Hughes of Seattle University, interviewed my King 5 News, “I don’t think anybody, with the old GED, would have said that it did that.” This point often comes up during the discussion of the GED. The old GED was simply not comparable to a high school diploma, and it was affecting certificate holders after their examination.
“It didn’t hold the same way it used to,” explained CT Turner, spokesman for the GED Testing Service as quoted by the Seattle Times. As those who passed the GED continued to university and other higher education, they were often forced to take remedial corses which do not count toward a degree, courses that the vast majority of high school students have already passed. Those organizing the GED did not see the logic in making students spend hard earned tuition on courses that should be learned before one receives a high school diploma.
Turner continued to explain that even employers were seeing drastic differences between those who passed the GED exam and those who graduated high school. Employers were simply losing confidence in the GED exam. Supporters believe that this discreditation of the GED exam was hurting those who took the test more than an easier test was helping them.
The change has also pushed more students towards alternative ways of getting their high school diploma. A program which pushes prospective graduates to take classes and receive credits for skills learned outside of high school, and eventually resulting in a similar certificate to the one offered by the GED.