Casper College plans to offer the GED test via computer starting Nov. 1. The Carbon County Higher Education Center in Rawlins also launched a computer-based GED test last month, and the Wyoming State Penitentiary followed suit Oct. 1, according to Troy Tallabas, the Wyoming state GED program manager with Wyoming Community College Commission.
The three Wyoming sites are among those in 24 states offering a computerized system to prepare for a nationwide shift to computer-based GED testing, according to a press release from GED Testing Service. In 2014, all GED tests will be administered via computer.
For now, the computer-based test is the same as the paper test. But an all-new GED test will roll out nationwide at the beginning of 2014, according to Tallabas.
Wyoming students who already are studying for or taking portions of the current GED test can finish by the end of 2013. If students aren’t finished by then, they will have to start over with the new test, according to Tallabas.
About once every 10 years or so, the company that creates the general equivalency diploma tests, GED Testing Service, redesigns the tests to meet the current high school standards. The last redesign took place in 2002. Changes to the new test will include alignment with a set of national expectations for students.
“Not only is GED modernizing, the new test is going to be far more rigorous and align to the Common Core State Standards,” Tallabas said.
The 2014 test will contain more difficult questions, but that doesn’t mean it will be harder to pass, according to CT Turner, director of public affairs for GED Testing Service.
“I know folks are saying this is a harder test, but that’s not necessarily true,” Turner said.
The new test will not only provide a high school equivalency credential, but also give test takers more information about their strengths and additional skills they’ll need beyond the high school level to succeed in college and the job market.
The changes came in light of studies predicting that by 2020, 73 percent of jobs will require education or training beyond high school, Turner added.
Standards for GED are based on how well graduating high school students perform across the nation, so the new test would become more difficult to pass only if graduating students are performing far better, according to Turner.
“My guess and my read on the situation is it’s going to be pretty similar to where people were the last time we did an orbital study,” he said.
Advantages of the computerized test include an instant unofficial score and the ability to arrange taking the test online at a testing center.
A disadvantage, according to Tallabas, is the computerized test — including those launching in Wyoming this fall — costs $120. The paper version being phased out costs an average of $60 in Wyoming.
The Adult Learning Center at Casper College currently doesn’t charge students in its GED program for the tests, according to Lisa Mixer, the center’s programs coordinator. All those taking the GED there must go through the program, although that might change with the online registration option.
The American Council on Education, which founded the test in the 1942, merged with testing company Pearson to provide the modernized computer test and bring needed capital to the joint venture, according to Turner. GED Testing Service is jointly owned by those two companies, Turner said.
Because the GED providers changed from a nonprofit to a for-profit entity, according to Tallabas, almost every jurisdiction in the country including Wyoming is considering alternatives.
“Before this new test comes out in 2014, we have to decide if GED is going to enjoy a legalized monopoly or whether GED is going to have to compete with every other product on the market that’s now based on Common Core State Standards and like every other product on the market that is a profitized product. They’re going to have to compete,” Tallabas said.
Several companies are vying to market a high school equivalency test product, he added.
To find out more about resources to complete a GED, he recommends visiting www.gedtestingservice.com/finishtheGED.com.