With significant changes on the horizon, those at ARIN Center for Education are ramping up efforts to help those who are in the middle of completing or are nearly ready to take the GED exam.
A new version of the test for a high school equivalency diploma will be used starting Jan. 1.
Those who don’t complete all five sections of the current test by Dec. 31 will have to start over with the new one.
The updated version incorporates changes that align with the Common Core Standards, a new set of guidelines proposed for use in schools across the country.
Forty-five states, including Pennsylvania, have already adopted the standards, according to information from Common Core Standards Initiative.
In light of the content changes, adults working on a GED should try to take the test by the end of the year, said Elizabeth Duncan, adult and ESL program coordinator at ARIN.
The ARIN Center has been revamping its curriculum to prepare students who will take the new version of the GED test in 2014.
Four subjects will be covered instead of the current five: reasoning through language arts, mathematical reasoning, science and social studies.
The content will contain what Duncan describes as “tiers two and three” depth of knowledge. Those knowledge levels require more critical and analytical thinking.
Among other changes is the addition of several short essay-type questions in each section. The test now has one essay.
In addition to the content changes, the test will not longer be administered on paper, but computers, except in special circumstances.
Its cost, which currently may vary from center to center, will be a fixed $120.
With changes in test content and format, people working toward taking the current version may not be ready for the new test, Duncan said.
“People are feeling fairly panicked,” she said. “The bottom line is they need to see us.”
ARIN Center offers the test once a month at its office along Indian Springs Road in White Township.
In November and December, according to Duncan, the staff will likely increase the number of times the test is administered.
She said she would like to see anyone who needs to complete the test visit the ARIN Center so they can collaborate with staff to develop an individualized plan.
If someone fails the test but doesn’t have the time to retake it before the end of the year, they will have to start over by studying new material so they can retake the GED in its new incarnation.
“And how crushing will that be?” Duncan said.
GED students often have life circumstances that impact their test preparation and completion timeline, she said.
Each year, according to Duncan, ARIN is contracted to provide GED assistance to about 400 people in Indiana and Armstrong counties.
Currently, about 40,000 Pennsylvania residents have started the process of taking the test.
While it will likely present challenges, a changing GED test can offer the opportunity for college and workforce readiness, she said.
“I think that it’s good, how you’re asked to synergize and analyze things as you would in a work circumstance,” Duncan said.
The goal of a GED, she added, is to provide an individual with sustainable and beneficial employment circumstances.
“(That) is different from just getting a job,” she said. “And that critical analysis is really a key part of sustainability in the environment.”
• The GED was first created in 1942 to evaluate World War II veterans who hadn’t graduated from high school. Its purpose was to determine whether they were qualified to attend college.
• Pennsylvania residents 18 and older without a high school diploma and who are not enrolled in a public or private school are eligible to take the GED test.
• Eligible as well are 16- and 17-year-olds who meet the same criteria for 18-year-olds and provide written verification from a principal or superintendent stating that they have withdrawn from school.
• There are more than 150 sites throughout the state where the test is given.
• The test can be taken up to three times a year.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education