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February 25, 2013

Rising cost of GED test prompts state to consider options

Any new test would likely use Common Core standards

INDIANAPOLIS — Thousands of Hoosier adults who didn’t graduate from high school have turned to the GED to get the credential they need to go work or college, but the State of Indiana — like states across the nation — is rethinking its value.

The state is looking at alternatives to the General Education Development test, which has been the standard way to earn a high school equivalency diploma since 1942. State officials are looking at other tests that qualify people for equivalency credentials and measure college and career readiness.

Prompting the move is the rising cost of the test and the takeover of the national GED program by a new for-profit company that is redesigning the test to bring it into alignment with the Common Core State Standards driving other changes in education. The new GED test to be rolled out in 2014 will be both more expensive to take and tougher to pass. State officials are hoping the combination will prompt more people thinking about earning a GED to act.

“If you’ve been waiting for that moment of inspiration, let this be it,” said Jackie Dowd, deputy commissioner of policy, education and training at the state Department of Workforce Development.

The department oversees the GED testing program in Indiana as part of the Indiana Adult Education program that helps adults earn the credentials needed to get into the work force. Last year, more than 15,000 Indiana residents took the GED test and 77 percent passed it. But there are many more who are eligible: More than 780,000 adults living in Indiana don’t have a high school degree or its equivalency. That’s about 1 in 6 adults.

Created during the early years of World War II as a way to help veterans finish their high school degree and get back into the civilian work force, the GED test has been the only high school equivalency program recognized by every state.

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