The General Education Development (GED) test in the United States is changing—for only the sixth time ever. While test-takers are rushing to complete their testing before December 31, the UIC Center for Literacy at the College of Education is preparing Chicago Head Start parents for the new test in 2014.
For the first time, the GED test will be computerized; the dedicated writing section will be dropped and integrated into existing language arts, social studies, science and math sections through short answer and extended response questions. In addition to content knowledge and writing skill, GED test-takers will now need keyboarding skills to complete the test.
The Center for Literacy is gearing up its two existing FAST centers with computer labs and preparing its educators with tools and strategies to teach curriculum more tailored to the new test.
Maureen Meehan, PhD, director of community literacy programs at the Center, says the changes in the test, while creating an initial transition period, will create additional value for test-takers.
“I think the new test is in line with the skills everyone needs to get a job,” Meehan said. “Computer literacy and functioning with a computer in a variety of contexts prepares people with the skills they will need in the working world.”
The new test will also provide an instant score upon completion. With past versions of the test, test-takers would have to wait 4-6 weeks to determine if they had passed all sections; if more testing was needed, the delay factored into how soon test-takers could enroll in classes for additional study. The new test will also provide a college and career readiness score that could be used as a tool of equity when applying for college or for a job.
On the other hand, Meehan says the financial constraints of the new test may hamper some test takers. The new test costs $120 and requires payment with a credit card or debit card, financial tools not available to all test takers. The Center is looking to provide Chicago Head Start parents with scholarships and subsidies for testing fees as well as alternative payment methods to assure they can sign up for the test.