By PATRICK HALL
The Wilson Post
Changes to the General Educational Development, or GED, tests has instructors at the Wilson County Adult Learning Center concerned that students may be forced to forgo the exam due to increased costs.
Starting in 2014, the GED will undergo changes in Tennessee that will make the test computer-based, more expensive and will significantly change the content.
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Developments Adult Education Division and Wilson Adult Learning Center Director Betty Byrd are encouraging anyone in the process of obtaining their GED to complete the test as soon as possible.
We know there are people who havent been able to complete the test, and they should come in and get their GEDs now, Byrd said.
The test is undergoing its largest overhaul since it began in 1942, and Byrd said the current test was created in 2002. The changes to content are designed to reflect Common Core State Standards of high school education.
Byrd said the test will become more difficult, but that does not worry instructors at the local Adult Learning Center. What are major worries, she noted, are the fact that the test will be computer-based and the cost to students to take the test are nearly doubling.
The price is going to increase dramatically, that troubles us tremendously, Byrd said.
The test now costs $65, but starting in January 2014, that price will almost double to at least $120. Byrd hopes the increased cost does not scare people away from striving to obtain their GED now or in the future.
For Wilson County residents trying to obtain their GED, the services of the Adult Learning Center are free of charge, however, the test is only administered in Wilson once every six weeks.
She said Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin is certified to administer the test and only visits Wilson once every six weeks to give local residents a chance to take the GED test here. Otherwise, local residents have to travel to Gallatin to take the exam.
We dont want that money to keep people from coming to our center or to keep them from pursuing their GED, Byrd said.
Along with an increase in cost, the test will become more rigorous academically, most notably in terms of mathematics proficiency. According to officials with the State Department of Labor, the test will require high proficiency in mathematics, writing, reading, science and social studies.
Byrd said she felt the standards should be updated to reflect current high school curriculum, which itself has undergone major changes in the past year. Tennessee is in the middle of raising its Core Curriculum standards on high school End of Course tests and Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests.
According to the Department of Labor officials, 56.6 percent of GED recipients in 2011 were between the ages of 17 and 25 years old. A total of 12,047 Tennesseans earned their GED but department officials estimated there are between 900,000 and 1 million adults without a high school diploma. Also, 29,000 students dropped out of high school this past year.
New jobs are not being created for those without a high school education. Unemployment rates are inversely related to the level of education a person has achieved, said state Labor Commissioner Karla Davis. The more education a person has, the less likely he is to be unemployed. The same is true of income. The income differences between a person who does not have a high school diploma or GED and a person who does is striking.
Byrd said these changes are only the information they have been told at this time, but they are expecting more changes in the future. She said the Adult Learning Center is bracing for these changes and will work to meet them when they apply.
In the meantime, Byrd urged all Wilson County residents currently seeking to obtain their GED to complete the test as soon as possible.
For more information, call the Adult Learning Center at 443-8731.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at email@example.com.