The GED test has offered generations of adults who did not finish school an opportunity to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma. As more and more jobs require higher levels of competence in reading, writing and math, the test is as important as it has ever been as a route out of a dead-end. Holders gain a basic credential, recognized in all 50 states, to ease the path to the job market and other postsecondary options.
Like almost everything related to measuring academic skills and knowledge, the GED test is changing. Unfortunately, for many in Ohio who are working toward the diploma, some of the changes could present significant barriers.
Beginning in January, the application process and testing — in reading, writing, science, social studies and math — will be conducted entirely online, the end of paper-based tests part of the inevitable march of technology. Also, the GED is changing to reflect the emphasis on generally tougher content and skills standards in the high school curriculum. Candidates who have not passed all five sections of the test must do so by the end of this year. If not, they will have to retake all sections as the sections passed in previous attempts no longer will count toward the diploma after Dec. 31.
Further, the cost of the test, which can be taken three times during one calendar year, is rising. A 300 percent increase in test fees, from $40 to $120, takes effect in January, the hefty tag lightened for some first-time test-takers with a onetime $80 subsidy from the state.
It is likely that candidates for the GED, with few exceptions, encountered problems with “school” work for one reason or other. They are likely to be unemployed or stuck in low-wage jobs. Most likely, too, they are trying to fit in studying around work and other obligations.
These may not be insurmountable hurdles to their success, to be sure, but they are significant. More often than not, those taking the GED need both time and money to get up to speed on academic and computer skills. Understandable as it is to protect the credibility of the GED as a credential on a par with the high school diploma, the priority should be to promote ways that encourage more Ohioans to earn the equivalent diploma, not place higher hurdles in their way by way of steep fees.