New Common Core-Aligned GED Test Losing Edge to Competition

David Jones/PA Wire URN:21969286/AP
File Photo: David Jones/PA Wire URN:21969286/AP

Since its alignment with the controversial Common Core standards, the General Educational Development (GED) test has lost its swagger as the dominant high school equivalency measure.

The GED was originally developed for returning World War II veterans who dropped out of high school and wanted to go to college using new benefits available to them under the GI Bill.

As The Wall Street Journal indicates, the new GED was created after the nonprofit American Council on Education, the test’s owner, joined with Common Core publishing giant Pearson PLC in 2011 to help fund a $40-$50 million overhaul to align it with the new standards adopted by 46 states.

However, the GED, the Associated Press reports, comes with a new higher price tag of at least $80, one that led many states to start searching for a better buy.

The test is gradually being edged out by competitors such as CTB/McGraw-Hill’s Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), now used in nine states, and the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), which is now the measure of choice in 14 states.

Five states–California, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Wyoming–offer all three exams to test-takers.

President of GED Testing Service Randy Trask defended the overhaul to the WSJ. “I believe the GED was becoming irrelevant,” he said. “It was not serving anyone well, especially people who see this as a magical passport to a better life.”

Georgetown economist Anthony Carnevale said, “They built a Cadillac, and everyone wants a Chevy.”

According to AP, in response to criticism and the competition, GED officials claim they are working out problems with the new measure. “It’s been a real challenge for us to make sure our teachers are all kept abreast of what they should be covering before we send people to the test,” said Michael Swords, who administered the GED for many years in New York State prior to the test’s replacement by a competitor.

Before the GED’s overhaul in 2012, 69 percent of those who took the exam passed. When the anticipated changes were announced the following year, about 713,000 individuals took the GED–over 130,000 more than the previous year, likely individuals trying to avoid the new test–with a passing rate of 76 percent.

With the overhauled test last year, only 316,000 were administered one of the equivalency tests, with about 62 percent passing whichever measure they took.

The competition has forced test-takers to recall they can no longer simply say, “I have my GED.”

Similarly, Ellen Haley, president of TASC-owner CTB/McGraw-Hill, said “Even job applications say, ‘You must have your GED,’” a situation that has now changed.