Forty U.S. states and the District of Columbia are participating in a working group to consider a less-expensive alternative to the General Educational Development (GED) program that has helped 18 million students obtain high school equivalency diplomas since the end of World War II. The GED remains an important option for millions of students who […]
Forty U.S. states and the District of Columbia are participating in a working group to consider a less-expensive alternative to the General Educational Development (GED) program that has helped 18 million students obtain high school equivalency diplomas since the end of World War II.
The GED remains an important option for millions of students who are unable to finish high school because of family issues, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy or other personal problems. In 2010, 800,000 students across all 50 states used the program to obtain a Certificate of High School Equivalency, certifying that they have passed five areas: writing, social studies, science, reading and mathematics.
Another major factor driving students to drop out from high school is poverty. According to 2012 statistics published by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 50 million Americans live in poverty and millions more live in near poverty conditions.
“It’s a complete paradigm shift because the GED has been the monopoly. It’s been the only thing in town for high school equivalency testing. It’s kind of like Kleenex at this point,” said Amy Riker, director of high school equivalency testing for Educational Testing Service, which developed one of the alternative tests.
Last month, New York, Montana and New Hampshire announced they were switching to a new high school equivalency exam, while California officials began looking into amending regulations to drop the requirement that the state use only the GED test.
Missouri recently began accepting bids from test makers and plans to make a decision this month. Massachusetts, Maine, Indiana and Iowa announced plans to request information about alternative exams.
It’s unclear how the differences in high school equivalency testing will affect overall education trends and the job market, but keeping an equivalency exam available remains critical to millions of students and adults seeking to improve their skills.
At the time of the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 39 million adults — 18 percent of whom were aged 16 and older — lacked a high school credential and were not enrolled in any educational program.
Having a high school diploma or equivalency is a major factor in determining the success an individual will have over the course of his professional working career. According to a 2013 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, those without a high school diploma earn just $471 on average per week, the lowest of any group. Those with a high school diploma earn on average $181 more per week. Salaries increase markedly for those with associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.