GED Testing Centers: “Almost a Prison-Like Atmosphere”

From an article in StateImpact Ohio published last week:

According to information from the state’s GED office, the center used to be one of more than 60 testing centers that offered the paper test.  But now, tests will only be offered at certified computer based testing centers. [Seeds of Literacy’s Education Consultant Dan] McLaughlin said that these types of environments could be a little jarring for already nervous test takers. It’s vastly different from the old standard of a paper and pencil test.

It’s almost like a prison-like atmosphere in there,” he said. “You’re in a little tiny booth, and there’s a camera trained on you the whole time. So it’s a really different feeling than taking the test someplace that you’re comfortable and someplace that you know.” (my emphasis)

Putting aside all of the other concerns people have raised about the changes to the GED, is anyone worried that these tests are going to turn a lot of adult learners off on technology? Or, at the very least, is the (understandable) emphasis on getting people ready for the computer-based GED sucking up time and resources that might otherwise be used to help adult learners access and use digital technology in more creative and interesting ways?

2 thoughts on “GED Testing Centers: “Almost a Prison-Like Atmosphere”

  1. Of all the issues to raise about the new GED, describing computer-based testing as “prison-like” doesn’t make much sense to me. All three high school equivalency exams are moving toward CBT. I took my GRE under similar circumstances. Others describe classroom style testing on paper as stifling and strict and CBT as comfortable and more individualized.

    Promoting technology integration initiatives as an alternative to imposing CBT sounds good, but if it’s optional, then part-time resource thin educators and organizations will continue to take a pass. Requiring CBT in 2014, or gradually over the next few years, may be just the catalyst the field of adult ed needs to start embracing technology.

    • Jason, you make a good point: since when is testing of *any* kind not an uncomfortable and tense experience for most people? (Although I do think the camera surveillance referenced here might raise the discomfort a notch or two.) I’ve never taken the GED test in any context, so I am not one to judge. My question is simply whether this shift is going to relegate the use of computers solely to CBT and CBT prep — at least for some adult leaners — without introducing them to the other opportunities that these tools can provide. I’m skeptical of claims that CBT prepares adults for “real-world” computer skills to the extent that proponents claim (a good area for further study, I think).

      The more important question is your last point: will the move over to CBT be a catalyst that moves the field toward embracing digital learning of all kinds? I’d like to create incentives for programs to do so. I fear that without some effort on the policy side to create those incentives, it won’t happen. But I agree that the technology investments required by the shift to CBT could help a lot on the infrastructure side.

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