People looking to take the General Educational Development (GED) test have until the end of 2013 to take the current series of tests. Come next Jan. 2, a new assessment will take its place.
Not only will the test be more rigorous and aligned with the Common Core Standards, but it will be administered only online and at a higher cost.
Sarah Potter, communications coordinator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the current contract with the American Council on Education GED Testing Service expires on Dec. 31.
“We’re looking for a new vendor. We’ve opened the bidding process and invited other vendors to apply for the contract for next year,” Ms. Potter said.
The bids closed on Feb. 15, with plans for a vendor to be selected in March, she added.
In March 2011, ACE and Pearson VUE, a for-profit education and testing company, announced a joint venture. They established a for-profit organization to develop a “21st Century” computer-based high school equivalency test to be released next January.
The price of the 2014 test will be $120, plus another $20 for state administrative fees. Currently, the cost of the GED test — which enables people to obtain their Missouri High School Equivalency Certificate — is $40.
Betty Kimberling, Adult Education and Literacy Program director at the Webster Learning Center, said the higher costs will create a hardship for many of her clients.
“We want the best of all worlds. We want it to be not as costly for our students, so more people can afford it,” she said.
“We want it to still be reliable. It is equivalent to a high school diploma, like the other one, and we would still like to have it in our area.”
Currently, she said, about 500 students need to come in and complete the test before the December deadline. Those who don’t will have to start from scratch on the new test next year.
“Let’s say they passed four out of the five sections, but missed one,” she said. “If they don’t come back before Dec. 31, they lose all those scores. In the past, it was a two-year window.”
The Adult Education and Literacy Program at Webster serves about 1,500 students a year in the St. Joseph area.
But the cost of the test isn’t the only thing that might hurt students, Ms. Kimberling added. Some of her students aren’t computer savvy enough to use a mouse and drag-down menus. The testing change to online only also requires the need for more computers.
“We know we have to push them up because of the technology age. There’s going to be a lot of things that have to happen,” she said.
Ms. Potter said that she still expects the price to go up in 2014, regardless of the vendor.
“We don’t know what options are out there,” she said. “It’s really all kind of up in the air right now.”
The last time the 70-year-old GED test was revised was in 2002.