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New version of GED is here with New Year

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Earning a GED in Pennsylvania has just become a whole lot harder.

The revamped General Educational Development credential — now administered by the for-profit group Pearson — is being launched Jan. 2. Proponents say the changes will give the test greater credibility and better prepare students for work and college.

But for many high school dropouts hoping to claw their way back into the job market, the New Year is bringing about anxiety instead of happiness.

The GED test, now aligned with the new Common Core state standards, is purely computer-based. Test takers who plan to continue their education can opt for a more rigorous version of the exam. And it costs 60 percent more, jumping from $75 to $120.

"It’s a disaster," said Bonnie Kaye. "They’re holding high school dropouts to an educational standard that high school students aren’t being held to."

Kaye has been running a GED prep center in Northeast Philadelphia for seven years. For more than two decades before that, she was an instructor at Community College of Philadelphia.

The new test will do nothing, Kaye said, but keep struggling, low-income high school dropouts from getting the piece of paper they need to secure employment.

"The company that bought the test, PearsonVUE, claims it makes people ‘college ready.’ The point is a lot of people aren’t going to college. I mean that’s the reality," said Kaye. "People need jobs to survive. People need to get work to support their families. People need to get off the system, instead of straining the state. How are they going to do this if they can’t get a job?"

Kaye especially fears that the new test will discriminate against older people who aren’t used to working with computers.

Read the rest of the story on NewsWorks

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