Kentucky's GED test needs to keep pace

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Employers, colleges and vocational schools have long recognized the GED test as a high school equivalency degree. It was developed in the 1940s so American soldiers returning from World War II could use the GI Bill to advance to college. Many had left for the military without finishing high school.

It makes sense, then, that the GED remains relevant only if it changes to keep pace with changes in traditional high school classrooms. That's what will happen next year, when a new and more rigorous GED test is introduced. It will be more closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards used in Kentucky and about 40 other states.

The content for the new GED is derived from Common Core. Test-takers will see more difficult questions in reading comprehension, along with an emphasis on critical-thinking skills. Also, for the first time, the test will be given on computers.

The last change to the GED test was in 2002. The 2014 version is widely recognized as the most difficult GED test since its creation some 70 years ago.

Some have questioned if the new test will be too difficult.

There's no doubt the new GED will be a challenge for the students taking the test and for all the adult education and social service agencies that help students prepare for the exam. But the GED's relevancy could be diminished if the test does not challenge adult learners to shot for a higher measure of education.

In 2010, 655,000 people completed a GED test and 474,000 of them earned a passing grade.

"The new exams are designed to better prepare students for vocational training, college or careers by testing the skills employers are looking for now," said Armando Diaz, a spokeswoman for the GED Testing Service.

The test will have fewer multiple-choice questions and more questions that require short written answers.

The changes are necessary and ultimately in the best interest of the adult learners.

A test that doesn't keep pace with high school curriculum would eventually lose credibility and leave adults who didn't finish high school with few alternatives to prove they are ready for most jobs or for college.

Ñ This editorial originally appeared in The Kentucky New Era in Hopkinsville.